Date: 21 April 2014
Location: Izmir Magistrates Court No.1, Turkey
On Monday Amnesty International will be monitoring the trial of 29 people who sent messages on the Twitter social media site in the first days of the Gezi Park protests last year..
The defendants who sent tweets reporting police violence, or called for medical aid, face charges of inciting the public to break the law, and if found guilty they could face up to three years in prison.
With Turkey’s mainstream media failing to report the protests, social media played a central role in the way demonstrations - which began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and Taksim Square - spread around the country in late May and June last year.
The authorities have responded by attacking the use of Twitter and other social media, and 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; meanwhile YouTube remains blocked despite a court order for this to be lifted.
Amnesty’s Turkey expert Andrew Gardner will be in the courtroom in Izmir, observing the second hearing in the Twitter case on Monday. He said:
“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.”
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