Turkey’s Prime Minister Sues His Own Country Over Twitter

As we’ve been reporting for nearly a year now, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, really hates Twitter. Indeed, it is arguably becoming something of an obsession for him, to the point where he has now taken the unprecedented step of suing his own country over it, as Hurriyet Daily News reports:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made an application to the Constitutional Court on April 18 over the failure to implement court rulings requesting the removal of content violating his rights, according to a senior official from his office. Erdoğan is seeking 50,000 Turkish Liras in compensation, Reuters reported.

The move has been described as a “first of its kind” by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu, who said the prime minister of Turkey had never before filed a lawsuit against the state.

“There is no precedent for the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic to sue the Turkish Republic and demand compensation. This is happening for the first time,” said Feyzioğlu.

He also described Erdoğan’s application to the Constitutional Court as “unlawful,” on the grounds that domestic remedies had not yet been exhausted.

Those domestic remedies include filing a lawsuit against Twitter, which naturally seems to be trying to avoid that: on April 14, its head of global public policy held talks with officials from the prime minister’s office, the Communications Ministry and telecom authorities. The company has already made concessions, as this story from Agence France-Press indicates:

Twitter blocked two accounts on Sunday that had been used to spread corruption allegations against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his government and his inner circle.

The move came after high-level meetings between the government and executives from the company last week, and after the Turkish government provoked a storm in March by trying to ban the network entirely.

The two accounts blocked on Sunday — @Haramzadeler333 and @Bascalan — leaked large amounts of secret documents and recorded phone conversations implicating Erdogan, his family and associates in a wide-ranging corruption scandal.

It seems unlikely that blocking a couple of accounts will satisfy the Turkish prime minister — it may even embolden him. Expect to see further interesting developments in this long-running struggle pitting a popular but increasingly-autocratic Erdoğan against his political opponents and supporters of freedom of speech.

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