Twitter Refuses to Block Account of Noted Turkish Journalist

Another day, another online censorship request from Turkey.

|
Sep 26 2016, 6:37pm

Image: Αλέξης Τσίπρας Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας/Flickr

A Turkish court ordered Twitter to block the account of a noted journalist last week, accusing him of "instigating terrorism." But despite receiving the court order, Twitter has decided not to comply, Motherboard has learned.

The company got a court order requesting the censorship of 17 accounts, including that of Mahir Zeynalov, a well known DC-based writer. But as of Monday morning, the account was still up all over the world, including within Turkey. Twitter also notified Zeynalov of the censorship request via email on Friday. Twitter declined to comment for this story.

Read more: Iran's 'Smart' Instagram Censorship Isn't That Smart

"Twitter has not taken any action on the reported account at this time. One of our core values is to defend and respect the user's voice," the notice sent to Zeynalov, which was obtained by Motherboard, read. "Accordingly, we may consider filing petition of objection if we find that there is an appropriate legal basis to do so. If you intend to file an objection to this order in the Turkish courts, please reply immediately to let us know."

Despite the company's refusal, Zeynalov said he expects his account to be censored.

"Twitter may block the account any minute now," he told Motherboard via email. "At this point, I am hoping that Twitter appeals the decision. Or at least they could refuse to comply with Turkey's demand."

Zeynalov spoke about his plight throughout Monday on his Twitter account.

"Twitter told me that it will block my account at the request of Turkey for 'instigating terrorism,' putting an end to my ~7-year reporting,", tweeted on Monday morning.

The court order that requested the blocking of Zeynalov's Twitter account also listed a few websites and Facebook accounts, all accused of "allegedly promoting terrorism, violence, and threatening national security and public order," according to a translation.

This is just the latest blatant online censorship attempt from the Turkish government, which has become one of the worst offenders on the internet when it comes to quashing dissenting voices. Last week, in its latest transparency report, Twitter revealed that—once again—Turkey was by far the country that sent the most censorship requests. In the second half of 2015, Turkey tried to censor 8,092 accounts. In the first half of 2016, the country almost doubled that number with 14,953 censorship requests.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.