Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s authoritarian president, is pressuring Twitter to shut down the account of an American think tank critic over critical comments he’s made on the social media platform.
The Washington Post reports that Erdogan is going after Michael Rubin, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and former Pentagon official.
Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported on Wednesday that Twitter’s legal team informed Rubin of the request from Erdogan on Monday. The company is currently weighing its options, according to Rogin.
Reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson said that accounts are shut down only if they violate terms of service agreements.
“We don’t comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons. The only reason we would suspend an account is if it violates one or more of our rules,” the spokesperson told The Daily Caller.
Rubin’s account was active as of this writing.
A former Pentagon official, Rubin has been one of Erdogan’s toughest critics in the U.S. He has assailed the Islamist leader’s rollback of civil liberties in Turkey, which includes a crackdown of dissenters and journalists who question him and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Earlier this month, Erdogan filed a legal complaint in a Turkish court accusing Rubin of threatening him and his family in columns published at various outlets.
One of the offending columns appears to be one published in March 2016 by Newsweek entitled, “Will There Be A Coup Against Erdogan In Turkey?” Several months later, in July, members of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow Erdogan.
“It’s a test case for Twitter, because there are a lot of journalists in exile who have taken to Twitter,” Rubin told Rogin of The Post. “If Twitter were to cave to this, it would have a chilling effect on diaspora journalism, not just with regard to Turkey.”
“For a man who depicts himself as a great leader on the world stage, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems fragile, an Ottoman snowflake,” Rubin wrote earlier this month after learning that Erdogan had filed a criminal complaint against him.
Erdogan has a history of aggressive reactions to critics of his regime. Last month, a group of his bodyguards attacked peaceful protesters staged outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.
Erdogan looked on calmly from the residence as the attack unfolded. Video recorded of the incident also indicates that Erdogan may have ordered the assault, which left nine protesters injured.
The Turkish foreign ministry later claimed that the protesters — many of who were women and elderly — posed a physical threat to Erdogan.
The Turkish government has also sought to block Turks’ access to various online platforms, including Twitter and Wikipedia.