At least 30 social media users in Turkey were prosecuted on Wednesday for posting and sharing sharing tweets claiming that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dead.
The Turkish Directorate General of Security said that the suspects shared “disinformation and manipulative content” online. The suspects were also under investigation for spreading content that “insults or misrepresents” the Turkish President.
“Thirty individuals have been identified, and the necessary legal proceedings have been initiated against them,” the directorate said.
“Necessary investigations are carried out about the posts that contain lies, baseless and disinformation and are sent to the judicial authorities.”
Separately, Erdogan’s lawyers have also filed a complaint with Ankara’s chief prosecutor’s office, Euronews reports from Ankara.
The social media users alleged that Erdogan was dead with the hashtag #ölmüş (#dead), as rumors of the rapid deterioration of the Turkish president’s health were fueled earlier in the week.
Erdogan’s difficulty in walking
A video clip of Erdogan during the G-20 Summit in Rome shows the Turkish leader having some difficulty in walking.
— 🅻-🆃🅴🅰🅼 (@L_Team10) November 1, 2021
In an apparent attempt to dismiss speculation about the health of Erdogan, his communications director, Fahrettin Altun, released a video showing the Turkish President walking with relative ease and appearing to be in good health. “Reassure the friend, frighten the enemy,” Altun tweeted when posting Erdogan’s video on Twitter.
Dosta güven, düşmana korku… pic.twitter.com/ljoR6UEAuI
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) November 3, 2021
Rumors about the Turkish President’s deteriorating health have been circulating throughout 2021. In a video clip from February, the president appears to need the help of his wife and an assistant as he stands in front of a series of stairs.
And, in a video that received considerable attention this past July, Erdogan seems to fade out and slur his words during a televised holiday greeting to AKP members.
Bi noktadan sonra istesen de bıraktırmazlar. pic.twitter.com/KYFZ5Vhibs
— Cevheri Güven (@cevheriguven) July 21, 2021
The Turkish president, during a live interview on state broadcaster TRT, admitted that he had received three doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
“I checked to see if there was an increase in my antibody levels. I reached 2,160 (units per milliliter), thank God,” he said.