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25 February, 2021
 
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Police criticised over 'botched' Twitter raid

Lawyer says police had malintent, cops defend home raid following complaint from justice minister

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Police continue to be criticized over a home raid on the weekend when officers confiscated a woman’s computer and phone after Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis complained about a parody account on Twitter, with the woman's lawyer accusing police of fishing for evidence at the wrong house.

Yiolitis, whose personal life and lifestyle is often picked apart by posts on social media, had contacted police recently to complain against a specific account on Twitter citing invasion of privacy concerns.

Local media said the justice minister believed some posts by Twitter handle “Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou” made references to close relatives and family members and further accused the account user of privacy breach offences.

Police had the wrong person

But after police officers raided a woman’s home with a search warrant, it emerged that the suspect was not the administrator of the account, raising further questions as to how what tools investigators used to identify the suspect in the warrant.

Reports said the woman in question, who was not arrested during the raid or throughout the investigation, was not in fact the owner of the Twitter account.

Yiolitis reportedly wanted the matter closed, with police sources also confirming that there was never an intention to prosecute the woman.

But critics say the minister went too far, with local reports saying the woman was never given a chance even to read the search warrant when three officers raided her residence.

The woman’s lawyer said his client “cooperated fully with the police who confiscated electronic devices from her home,” later described as a laptop computer and a mobile phone.

Lawyer accuses police of fishing for evidence

But the lawyer also accused police of malicious intent, going on to describe the raid as an “illegal evidence gathering” operation.

“There isn’t and hasn’t been any connection whatsoever between our client and the Twitter account in question, and any implication as such is with mal intent,” the woman’s attorney said.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou said law enforcement officials returned confiscated property to the woman after investigators completed their inspection, which was based on alleged offences including forgery and breach of private information.

Critics say the minister went too far, with reports saying the woman was never given a chance even to the search warrant when three officers raided her residence

“After forensic tests were conducted under the supervision of the Cyber Unit, the confiscated pieces of evidence were returned the next day to the legal owner,” Andreou said.

But a number of questions on Wednesday remained unanswered in local media, including whether police had the wrong suspect, while a news talk show host on state radio asked Andreou whether it was normal procedure to raid someone’s home and confiscate computer devices after someone else complained to police over online content.

“Did you go there because madam minister called you up?” the host inquired.

“We investigate about 50 such cases every year,” Andreou said, adding that “complaints filed by private citizens are processed through established procedures just like in the given situation.”

Minister okay with parody but family off limits

Yiolitis, who took to Twitter to address the issue, said she was not interested in pressing charges. But the justice minister wrote that she was okay with the online user writing about her while adding her father and other relatives were off limits.

The woman’s lawyer maintained that police moved rapidly on the case, alleging that officers acted quickly after the parody account made use of a photograph showing the minister’s parents.

“This was not something offensive and it could have been rectified at once with a mere request to have it taken down,” the lawyer said, adding instead that a private citizen ended up going through an ordeal for a post unrelated to her.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Twitter  |  justice minister  |  Emily Yiolitis  |  police  |  parody account  |  criticism  |  humor  |  humour  |  politics  |  politician

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