Turkey’s parliament has passed a law to control social media platforms, a move human rights groups say poses a severe threat to freedom of expression. The law requires social media firms with more than a million Turkish users to set up local offices and comply with requests to remove content. If companies refuse, they face fines and may have data speeds cut.
Thousands of Turks gathered near Hagia Sophia early on Friday for the first prayers there since President Tayyip Erdogan declared the monument a mosque once again. A top Turkish court announced this month it annulled Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum. Erdogan immediately turned back into a mosque a building which was a Christian Byzantine cathedral for 900 years before being seized by Ottoman conquerors and serving as a mosque until 1934.
A series of explosions at a fireworks factory in north-west Turkey trapped more than 150 workers inside the building and left 41 people wounded, officials say. A dark plume of smoke billowed above the factory and the government’s disaster agency described the blasts as an industrial accident. Mr Kaldirim, the governor of Sakarya province, said 150-200 people had been working at the site at the time of the explosions.
Fists flew as a fight broke out between lawmakers from opposing parties in Turkey’s parliament Wednesday during a tense discussion about the country’s military involvement in northwest Syria. Dozens of legislators from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party and from the main opposition party were caught on camera pushing and punching each other. Tensions are running high following the deaths of more than 50 Turkish soldiers in Idlib in the past month.
Eight people died after an avalanche hit eastern Turkey on Wednesday, the local hospital said, while the Turkish interior minister was quoted as saying 10-15 people were still trapped under the snow. Meki Arvas, mayor of a district in the eastern province of Van, was quoted by broadcaster NTV as saying a team of 300 people had been working to rescue people trapped under an earlier avalanche on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said troops have begun moving into Libya after parliament approved the move last week. He said their mission was to ensure stability for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. The Libyan government is fighting an insurgency by rebel forces under Gen Khalifa Haftar, based in eastern Libya.
Turkey has dispatched a surveillance and reconnaissance drone to the breakaway north of ethnically divided Cyprus amid tensions over offshore oil and gas exploration, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said Monday. Kudret Ozersay, foreign minister of the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state, told reporters Sunday that the Turkish deployment would be limited to unarmed drones as there was “no need” for armed ones.
A former British army officer, who helped start the “White Helmets”, an emergency response group in Syria, has been found dead near his home in Istanbul, just days after the Russian foreign ministry menaced him, accusing him of being a spy. James le Mesurier was the director of Mayday Rescue charity that trained members of the Syria Civil Defence, nicknamed the White Helmets, playing a major role in its creation in Turkey in 2013.
The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week. Turkey makes more than 900 parts of the F-35, the supply chain would transition from Turkish to mainly U.S. factories as Turkish suppliers are removed.
President Trump announced the imposition of ‘large sanctions’ on Turkey on Thursday following the detainment of an American pastor accused of aiding a failed coup attempt in 2016. Trump officially spoke about Andrew Brunson’s release with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June. A Turkish court ordered Brunson to house arrest while his trial continues.