A Turkish politician has brought legal action against 600 different people who insulted him on Twitter.
Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has tried responding to his critics directly on Twitter to no avail. In an interview on a Turkish TV station, Gökçek explained how he, and not a government staffer, runs his 368,000-follower Twitter account and takes all responses seriously.
“In the beginning we weren’t able to catch them with the speed of social media, but now we can. We caught approximately 80 percent of those who have insulted me,” Gökçek said. “When you give their names and accounts to police, they find themselves in front of prosecutors. But if they apologize publicly, then I say they’re young and forgive them.”
Gökçek has been a controversial political figure since being elected mayor for a fourth term in 2009. In June Gökçek lashed out against protesters disgusted over plans by the Turkish government to ban abortions.
“Women kill their babies born out of adultery. Why do babies die because of these so-called mothers? Let mothers kill themselves,” Gökçek said, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Turkey is considered one of the most repressive countries in the world when it comes to freedom of speech. More than 100 journalists have been jailed, and more than 800 faced charges, over the past year for offenses including “denigrating the state,” the Guardian reported.