CIC denies Saudi Arabia's link to fake Facebook accounts

Facebook has made at least 14 public announcements about takedowns of “inauthentic behavior” stemming from 17 different countries this year. (File/Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2019

CIC denies Saudi Arabia's link to fake Facebook accounts

  • This comes after foreign reports stated that people associated with the nation’s government ran a network of accounts and false pages to promote advertising materials
  • Facebook said it had suspended more than 350 accounts and pages with about 1.4 million followers, the latest takedown in an ongoing effort to combat “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platform

DUBAI: The Center for International Communication denied ties between Saudi Arabia’s government and people connected with running fake Facebook accounts on Saturday.

“The government of Saudi Arabia has no knowledge of the mentioned accounts and does not know on what basis they were linked to it,” the Center for International Communication said in a statement published by Reuters.

This comes after foreign reports stated that people associated with the nation’s government ran a network of accounts and false pages to promote advertising materials.

Facebook said it had suspended more than 350 accounts and pages with about 1.4 million followers, the latest takedown in an ongoing effort to combat “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platform.

“The government of Saudi Arabia has no knowledge of the mentioned accounts and does not know on what basis they were linked to it,” the Center for International Communication, the government’s media office, said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Online battleground
Social media companies are under mounting pressure to help stop illicit political influence online.
US intelligence officials have said that Russia used Facebook and other platforms to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election and are concerned it will do so again in 2020. Moscow denies such allegations.

Facebook has made at least 14 public announcements about takedowns of “inauthentic behavior” stemming from 17 different countries this year. The most recent announcement before Thursday included accounts run by people in Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Honduras.
(With Reuters)


Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

Updated 21 November 2019

Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

  • 14 employees of Cumhuriyet were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges
  • The case drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday upheld its conviction of 12 former employees of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper despite a higher court ruling, a lawyer for the newspaper said.
The court acquitted a 13th defendant, journalist Kadri Gursel, due to a ruling by the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest, said the lawyer, Tora Pekin.
In a case that drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan, 14 employees of Cumhuriyet — one of the few remaining voices critical of the government — were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges.
They were accused of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front militant groups, as well as the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says organized a 2016 failed coup. Gulen denies any involvement.
The Cumhuriyet staff have been in and out of jail for the duration of their trials. The 14th defendant, Cumhuriyet accountant Emre Iper, was released last month and his case is still under court review.
The Court of Cassation, Turkey’s high court of appeals, had ruled in September for the 13 defendants to be acquitted, with the exception of journalist and politician Ahmet Sik. The court said Sik should be tried for a different crime.
The case of the 12 defendants will now be re-evaluated by the Court of Cassation, Pekin said.
“With the Court of Cassation ruling (in September), we thought this endless arbitrariness and injustice were ending. But we understood in court today that it wasn’t so,” said Pekin.
Since the failed coup, authorities have jailed 77,000 people pending trial, while 150,000, including civil servants, judges, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. Some 150 media outlets have also been closed.
A global press watchdog said on Tuesday more than 120 journalists were still being held in Turkey’s jails, a global record.
Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern over the scale of the crackdown. Rights groups accuse Erdogan of using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.