Turkey's online censorship campaign appears to show no indications of slowing down. A Turkish court has ordered Twitter to block the account of a noted, exiled journalist for "instigating terrorism". However, Twitter has refused to block the verified account of Mahir Zeynalov. The social media giant also reportedly received a court order requesting that 17 accounts be blocked.
According to Zeynalov, Twitter had already blocked one of his accounts in August, which he used to tweet exclusively in Turkish. Zeynalov, who was exiled in 2014, was one of the first to sound the alarm after Turkey's failed coup, about the current regime's efforts to build a government-friendly media, in efforts to stamp out any criticism against President Tayyip Erdogan and his authoritarian regime.
In a farewell tweet to his over 21,000 followers, Zeynalov wrote: "Twitter told me that it will block my account at the request of Turkey for 'instigating terrorism', putting an end to my 7-year reporting."
"I am one of more than a hundred Turkish journalists whose verified accounts are withheld as part of Ankara's relentless censorship campaign," he added.
He also received a notice from Twitter informing him of the censorship request. "Twitter has not taken any action on the reported account at this time. One of our core values is to defend and respect the user's voice," the notice sent to Zeynalov read.
"Accordingly, we may consider filing a petition of objection if we find that there is an appropriate legal basis to do so. If you intend to file an objection to this order in the Turkish courts, please reply immediately to let us know," Motherboard reported.
A few hours after tweeting about the impending block of his account, Zeynalov tweeted an update. "Twitter says it *may* appeal the decision to restrict access to my account. It is highly likely that a Turkish court will uphold the verdict, he wrote.
"At this point, we hope that the decision to restrict access will be dropped. If not, at least we expect Twitter not to comply with it."
The journalist's account is currently active, indicating that so far, Twitter has refused to comply with Turkey's court order. However, it is uncertain if Turkey will overrule Twitter's appeal, enforcing the censorship.
In August, Twitter faced considerable backlash after bowing to pressure from the Turkish government, blocking the accounts of around 26 journalists, half of whose accounts were verified. According to reports, it now appears that Twitter is pushing back on the steady free flow of censorship requests from the Erdogan-led government. However, with the threat of a nationwide ban looming, it is uncertain if Twitter will be able to make its stand for free speech for much longer.