Turkey detains more than 400 for Covid-19 social media posts

Turkey has arrested 402 people in the past 42 days for allegedly sharing “false and provocative” social media posts regarding the coronavirus epidemic, officials said on Monday.

According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, the authorities inspected more than 6,000 social media accounts and the 402 suspects were among 855 account holders sought by the authorities to share messages deemed “provocative”.

Ministry official said social media users were arrested for allegedly trying to “panic” about the coronavirus pandemic with messages that, among other things, accuse the government of not doing enough to curb the epidemic or lying about the number of deaths or infections.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with government regulations.

Meanwhile, Turkey dispatched an air ambulance and repatriated a Turkish citizen who tested positive for the coronavirus in Sweden, but reportedly did not receive treatment there.

Emrullah Gulusken, 47, was evacuated from his Malmö home on Sunday after his daughter Leyla asked for help on social media. She said her father was sent home despite his worsening health, the state news agency Anadolu reported.

Gulusken and his three children were flown to Ankara where they were hospitalized, the agency reported. The Swedish authorities have not commented on the case.

“Dear Leyla, we heard your voice … Our air ambulance takes off at 6 am, we arrive in Sweden,” tweeted Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Sunday morning. “Our hospital, our doctors are ready to wait for your father.”

Turkey has repatriated around 40,000 nationals from 75 countries since the start of the epidemic in March, according to figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The country reported a total of 2,805 deaths and 110,130 confirmed infections. It ranks seventh in the world for the number of confirmed infections, according to Johns Hopkins University, but experts believe that the real balance sheet of the pandemic is higher than the count.

To date, nearly 890,000 people have been tested in Turkey.