Turkey: police investigate false online rumours that Erdoğan has died

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Thirty radical are facing ineligible proceedings aft Turkish constabulary launched an probe into the dispersed of rumours connected societal media that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had died.

Twitter users who posted nether the trending hashtag “olmuş” – astir “is said to beryllium dead” – were being investigated for sharing “disinformation and manipulative content”, a constabulary connection issued connected Wednesday said.

Separately, Erdoğan’s idiosyncratic lawyers filed a ailment with the Ankara nationalist prosecutor’s office, requesting that the applicable Twitter users beryllium investigated connected charges of “insulting” the president, which tin beryllium punished with a situation word of up to 4 years.

Erdoğan’s wellness has been the taxable of on-and-off speculation since 2011, erstwhile 1 of his doctors was forced to spell connected grounds to contradict that the Turkish person had cancer. Erdoğan, present 67, underwent superior tummy country successful 2012.

The latest question of rumours appears to person been sparked by footage from past week’s G20 acme successful Rome, successful which the president appeared to person occupation walking. The Turkish leader’s last-minute determination not to be the Cop26 talks successful Glasgow, citing a quality implicit information protocols, and his lack from a solemnisation connected Wednesday marking the 19th day of his party’s ascent to power, fuelled the fire.

He besides appeared unwell, astatine times slurring his speech, successful a video to people Bayram (Eid) successful July.

Erdoğan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, and respective politicians from the ruling Justice and Development enactment (AKP) refuted the claims that the president was ill, tweeting videos and images of the president astatine caller engagements.

“The main has arrived from Istanbul to Ankara. He is precise healthy. Those who effort to wound him would suffer their teeth,” the lawman enactment leader, Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı, tweeted.

Last month, Erdoğan’s authoritative Twitter relationship posted a video of the Turkish person playing hoops with his aides aft absorption politicians began questioning whether helium was physically and mentally acceptable for office.

“My governmental beingness was spent struggling against Erdoğan … My lone anticipation is that Erdoğan is acceptable and steadfast astatine the [next] elections and that helium accounts to the radical astatine the ballot box,” tweeted Aykut Erdoğdu, the lawman person of the absorption Republican People’s party.

Turkey is owed to clasp a wide predetermination earlier June 2023. While quality rights groups accidental the country’s institutions person been weaponised against Erdoğan’s opponents during his astir 20 years successful office, the country’s struggling system has led enactment for his enactment to ebb to historical lows.

Publicly “denigrating” the Turkish republic, Turkishness and the caput of authorities has been amerciable successful Turkey since 1926, but the fig of transgression complaints filed skyrocketed aft Erdoğan, antecedently the premier minister, became president successful 2014.

More than 160,000 investigations person been launched and astir 13,000 radical person been convicted for “insulting” the president successful the past 7 years, according to justness ministry data.

Also this week, Turkish media reported that a writer had been sentenced to 2 years successful situation for insulting the president by sharing a 300-year-old Ottoman poem connected Facebook, and a 96-year-old pistillate from Şanlıurfa would basal proceedings for comments successful a video posted to societal media successful which she “used remarks that tin beryllium offending to the president’s honour and respectability”.

In a determination past month, the European tribunal of quality rights ruled that a antheral who was detained for Facebook posts captious of Erdoğan successful 2017 had had his close to state of look violated. The tribunal called connected Turkey to alteration the instrumentality and wage recompense to those charged – but portion the Strasbourg body’s rulings are binding, Ankara has often ignored them.