Turkey investigates 346 people for social media posts on economy

Authorities said users were putting "economic security at risk by spreading fake news."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Turkey's Interior Ministry on Monday announced that judicial authorities were investigating 346 people over their social media posts about the state of the economy amid the Turkish Lira's crash which sparked panic among markets and investors.

The Ministry, whose head, Suleyman Soylu, came under US sanctions for his role in the continued detention of an American pastor Andrew Brunson, said those investigated were "provoking" the foreign exchange rate fluctuation and "creating [false] perception" with their posts.

The Lira saw a fresh, all-time low of 7.22 against the US Dollar when the Asia-Pacific markets opened earlier in the day.

Similar statements about the same investigation came from the Chief Public Prosecutor's Offices in Istanbul and Ankara, which are leading the probe, the Directorate of the national police, the state's watchdog Directorate of Information and Communications, the Capital Markets Board of Turkey, and the Investigation Board of Financial Crimes.

The prosecutor's office said social media users were putting the "economic security at risk by spreading fake news."

With a lack of coverage in the mainstream media on the unfolding financial crisis, citizens have resorted to social media networks for information.

Twitter and Facebook, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has blocked in the past, have been awash with mockery of the Finance Minister and Erdogan's son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, over a Friday powerpoint presentation he made.

Albayrak appeared in front of the cameras and high-profile businesspeople after he postponed his speech twice. As he spoke, the Lira continued to lose value, going up to 6.92 in parity with the US Dollar.

Social media users, however, were more interested in his style of speaking and bold solutions he proposed, such as "principles, sustainability, a tighter fiscal policy, and reform," without elaborating any further on his plans.

He questioned the need and calls for structural reforms by repeating the phrase twice and downplaying their significance.


Editing by Nadia Riva