The Turkish National Police's "anti-cybercrimes department" has dedicated a special desk to monitoring social media for the crime of "insulting state authorities," according to a local news report.
The desk became necessary after a flurry of cases were opened after individuals allegedly insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan online, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News.
"Even if the environment is virtual, crime is a reality," Kursat Basoglu, an official in the department, told the paper. "You cannot insult a person, slander or offend in normal life, so you cannot do it on social media platforms either."
In a truly bizarre case in 2015, Turkish man Dr. Bilgin Ciftci went on trial for allegedly sharing a meme in which Erdogan was compared to the "Lord of the Rings" character Gollum. Ciftci came up with a novel defense and argued that Gollum is, in fact, a hero in the fantasy epic.
Peter Jackson, director of the "Lord of the Rings" films based on the books by author J.R.R. Tolkien, and LotR super-geek Stephen Colbert came to the man's defense by pointing out that the images actually showed Smeagol, Gollum's good alter-ego. (You really need to watch the below video in which Colbert lays it all out.)
According to Hurriyet, the Turkish police cyber anti-crime department said it monitors some 40 million active internet users' social media to detect crimes beyond the alleged insults, including prostitution, drugs and illegal betting.
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