Turkey's interior ministry has announced it is launching investigations into 346 social media accounts that have posted negatively about the lira, in an apparent attempt to stifle dissent amid a dramatic currency crisis.
The Istanbul prosecutor's office said Monday that the investigations target individuals that threaten Turkey's "economic security" by posting comments about the lira's weakening "in a provocative way."
The lira has lost 30 percent of its value in three days, and fallen more than 40 percent against the dollar since the start of this year amid investor fears over central bank independence and a worsening diplomatic row with the U.S.
The weakening currency took its most dramatic blows yet on the back of President Donald Trump's announcement of sanctions over Turkey's continued detention of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, held in Ankara since 2016 on espionage charges that he denies.
The government's social media crackdown is being propped up by Turkish President Recep Erdogan's claims that the U.S. and other countries are launching "economic warfare" against the country. The prosecutor's office pledged to take action against all news, media and social media commentary deemed to undermine Turkish assets.
But the broad consensus among economists and analysts points to a gaping current account deficit and the central bank's unwillingness to raise interest rates to quell an overheating economy — under pressure by Erdogan, who has prioritized growth over addressing double-digit inflation — as the overwhelming cause of the lira's troubles.