Justice Minister blasted for going after parody account

Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis is under fire for reporting a Twitter parody account of her which led police to raid the home of a Larnaca woman thought to be behind it with public opinion against the move.

Last week police secured a search warrant for the woman’s home, confiscating several electronic devices as evidence.

Later the devices were returned to the woman, a teacher, as officers did not find any evidence implicating her to the parody account.

Yiolitis said that the case was closed as she had no intention of initiating civil proceedings.

The case, however, had sparked a public outcry with legal experts accusing the minister of abusing her power while also questioning the police’s zeal and ease with which they secured a search warrant.

Observers have suggested the warrant should have never been granted by the court, as a search warrant is only issued for crimes that entail a prison sentence of more than five years.

A leaked document showed police were investigating forgery and personal data offences, but also a parody account on social media, following a complaint by Yiolitis.

Main opposition party AKEL, said they are not letting the matter rest, arguing that Yiolitis is “hiding and keeping silent”.

It said the issue directly concerns the “individual rights of citizens, the rule of law and the quality of democracy in our country”.

“Mrs Yiolitis’ case is extremely serious, and we will not let it close unless convincing answers are given,” AKEL spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said.

AKEL submitted the matter for discussion in parliament where Yiolitis and other officials will be called to explain their actions.

“People have the right to know if at some moment the police will storm into their home and seize their computers if they dare to criticise or satirise the government and its ministers,” Stefanou said.

He further suggested the case was just another instance of the general arrogance and authoritarianism that characterises the Anastasiades administration.

“The government not only undermines any institutions it fails to control, but it now tries to gag freedom of expression, even satire,” said Stefanou.

Cyprus Green Party MP George Perdikis has sent a letter to Attorney General George Savvides, asking if he advised the minister to act in this way.

“Has he given relevant instructions to ministers and other public figures on how to react in such cases?”

The case arose when Yiolitis reported a parody account under the name ‘Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou’ which appeared last month on Twitter with a photo of the minister and her father, which she deemed to be offensive.

The account clearly states it is a “parody account of Emily Kardashian Yioliti, Fashion Icon, Rich Lawyer, Instagram Influencer, Socialite, ex EAC Chairman & Minister of Justice, Banana Republic”. It is still up and running.

Police defended their actions, arguing that they followed due process.

Government’s spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos backed the police and the minister’s actions.

“The account in question had overstepped the ethical line as regards critique, touching upon the minister’s personal data”.

Legal observers argue that ethical lines drawn by individuals, or even the authorities, are not above the law.

 

 

Source: The Financial Mirror

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