Turkey turns its mass arrest strategy on hackers

With so much news coming out of Turkey and so many high-profile targets getting hacked, it was probably inevitable that something like this would happen this week:  After hacker group Anonymous’ apparently successful Operation Turkey to protest Internet censorship, the country’s authorities have detained 32 people in connection with the attack on Turkish government Web ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

With so much news coming out of Turkey and so many high-profile targets getting hacked, it was probably inevitable that something like this would happen this week: 

With so much news coming out of Turkey and so many high-profile targets getting hacked, it was probably inevitable that something like this would happen this week: 

After hacker group Anonymous’ apparently successful Operation Turkey to protest Internet censorship, the country’s authorities have detained 32 people in connection with the attack on Turkish government Web sites.

After Friday’s attack, Turkey’s telecommunications authorities investigated and took the people into custody, according to a report today by Turkey’s state news agency. Eight of those detained were under 18 years old, the report said.

It’s not surprising that if Turkey were going to make hacker arrests, it would make 32 of them. The country’s usual response to possible unrest is to arrest a lot of people at once. I looked into the reson for this trend for a piece last year:

It’s probably not because Turkey has more massive criminal conspiracies per capita than anywhere else. Other countries manage to break up terrorist plots without resorting to mass arrests — it was the Buffalo Six not the Buffalo 86, for instance. More likely, Ankarauses the public spectacle of mass arrests to send a message. Under Turkish law, an individual can be charged for simply belonging to a banned organization, even if he or she hasn’t actually participated in any illegal activities.[…]

Despite its mass arrests, Turkey has a relatively low conviction rate — around 50 percent. Out of the original 86 Ergenekon arrests, only 48 are still on trial. But because Turkish law allows suspects to be held in prison during their trial, the arrest and trial itself can often be punishment enough — and a powerful deterrent for those who might think of instigating their own plots.

So while it wouldn’t be surpising if not all those arrested are actually members of Anonymous — to the extent that Anonymous even has members — and it’s certainly unlikely that all of them will be convicted, arrests like this one send a definite statement. 

Hat tip: Cyrus Farivar

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Turkey

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