Turkish YouTubers face jail for “promoting drug use”

Five to ten years in prison is the suggested sentence by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor for two brother accused of running a YouTube channel that allegedly encourages drug use.

A news report by T24 said the prosecutor wants the Kizgir brothers sentenced after they were first detained in December 2018 by the Narcotics Criminal Investigations Division of Turkey during a drug operation.

Emre Kizgir and Erdi Kizgir were detained over a video they published on their YouTube channel, “Deep Turkish Web.” The judge later released them.

Deep Turkish Web is one of the successful channels in Turkey, with about 920,000 subscribers. The Kizgir brothers, running a channel laced with unique sense humor opened the channel in 2016 and saw success because of their realistic acting of characters from everyday life.

According to the reports, in the video, – titled “Yılan Serdar ve Müptezel Samet” – one of the brothers approaches the other with a sac filled with a kind of powder in his hand.

The conversations between the two imply a drug was represented in the sac. In the following parts of the video, one of the brothers starts seeing hallucinations and both act as if they are not in their senses.

Officials held this video out as evidence for the criminal charges of promoting the use of drugs, though it was deleted afterward. The police did not come across traces of drugs when they conducted a search at their place.

Statements by the Kizgir brothers highlight the contents of the channel is completely humor-based and denied the allegations.

The chief prosecutor of Istanbul accepted the indictment, demanding 5 to 10 years of jail for social media celebrities.

Mentioned by the independent T24 news portal, the Kizgir brothers are expected to stand trial on July 4, 2019, for the first time due to the accusations.

Similar incidents had occurred in the recent past. Officers had arrested and questioned a famous Turkish rapper, Ezhel, on accounts of encouraging drug use in his lyrics in May 2018.

The focus point of his relevant song was believed to be poverty and urban life in his native city Ankara, capital of Turkey.

Judges acquitted Ezhel in his trial, held at the end of his four-week detention, after many of his fans raised their voices on several social media platforms, with the hashtag  #FreeEzhel, reported by CNN Turk.

“Where are you when we need justice most when all these horrible things are happening? I’m quitting rap and becoming a lawyer,”  protested Ezhel on his social media accounts.

Another such case was noted when Istanbul police had reportedly detained and interrogated Ezhel in October 2018 on accusations of promoting drug use in his song, “Mary Jane”, reported by Diken.

Reuters reported that Amnesty International has campaigned for journalists, singers and rights defenders jailed in Turkey after the coup attempt of 2016, which brought with it a ban of freedom of expression.

Don’t do the Bird Box challenge, it’s dangerous and can be deadly, warns police, Netflix and YouTube  

You might also like