How serious is Turkish tyrant Recep Tayyip Erdogan about stamping out political dissent no matter where it may be found? Serious enough that he’s chasing down Turkish expats in other countries who may be criticizing his regime. But given the problems with hunting enemies who may be under the protection of less authoritarian countries, some innovation is required. He can find some loyalists in other nations, but even if they suspect someone may be trashing their dear leader in, for example, Germany, how can they act on the information?
Not to worry. There’s an app for that! Yes, there is an app for smartphones available in the Google Play store which will allow you to snitch on your fellow expats if they fail to toe the Erdogan line. (From Faz.Net. The English translation is a bit spotty, but it will do.)
Erdogan-critical Turks are apparently denounced in Germany with the help of an app of the Central Authority of the Turkish police. The smartphone application, which the ARD magazine “Report Mainz” reported on Tuesday, is called “EGM Mobil”. The abbreviation EGM stands for “Emniyet Genel Müdürlügü”, the central authority of the Turkish police. The app is available for free download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store . It allows, according to “Report Mainz”, to display critical comments of people of Turkish origin in social networks directly with the Turkish authorities…
The Turkish police have been increasingly on the Internet for months against government opponents. This is evidenced by the numbers that the Turkish Ministry of the Interior reports on a weekly basis. According to research by “Report Mainz” in Turkey alone in the current year more than 20,000 cases were initiated for anti-government statements in social networks. Numerous cases were based on evidence from paid and volunteer informers.
This is fairly diabolical. As the article notes, the app in the Google Play store looks entirely harmless at first glance, and Google may not have even known what it was for. It’s advertised as an app to help expats by allowing them to, “use Turkish police services… to receive online notifications for parking requests or to access complaint forms.” But those in the know are aware that they can sniff out social media posts, newspaper articles or just public comments from Turkish expats, forward them to the Turkish police and generate a file on the person.
So what happens after that? Erdogan loyalists in the country where you live can begin to make life very unpleasant for you. And if you decide to go back home to Turkey on holiday things could become quite dire indeed. Here’s one example. (Emphasis added)
In an interview with “Report Mainz”, a Turk living in Germany described how he had been denounced with the help of the EGM app for a Facebook post in which he had criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan . “I wrote comments on Erdogan – he was a dictator and so on. One day I received a message via Facebook that said, “I’ve seen you, and the next time you come to Turkey, there’s no salvation for you.” The unknown informer also got the man a screenshot of him sent via the app refunded advertisement.
Turks still living in Turkey already know enough not to speak out against Erdogan in public. Doing so is an almost guaranteed ticket to a prison cell from which you may never emerge. But now the despotic government currently running Turkey is extending its claws beyond its borders thanks to the wonders of cell phone technology. Turks in Germany who dare criticize their government back home are being harassed and threatened. Going home may never be an option for them again.
This is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Turkey was, not all that many years ago, a shining example of a nation which had turned the corner, embraced democracy and grown their economy. Now, under the reign of Erdogan, they have slid back into tyranny, economic retraction, and repression. And a formerly strong U.S. ally has now turned into a threat.