Press Release, 17 April 2014
Date: 21 April 2014
Location: Izmir Magistrates Court No.1, Turkey
Amnesty International will be monitoring the trial of 29 people who tweeted messages on the social media site in the first days of the Gezi Park protests last June. The defendants who sent tweets reporting police violence, or called for medical aid, face charges of inciting the public to break the law. If found guilty, they could face up to three years in prison.
Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey will be in the courtroom in Izmir, observing the second hearing in the ‘Twitter case’ set for Monday 21 April.
“This case is a farce and should have never been brought to trial. It represents a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. It is absurd that people should face the prospect of a prison sentence for simply sharing information and their peaceful opinions on social media – it is their right to do so,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.
With national mainstream media failing to report the protests, social media played a central role in the way the demonstrations, which began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and Taksim Square, spread around the country in late May – June 2013.
The authorities responded by attacking the use of Twitter and other social media. In the last month, both Twitter and YouTube have been blocked in Turkey. While the ban on Twitter has been lifted, the authorities continue to threaten its closure. YouTube remains blocked despite a court order for the block to be lifted.