Czech cardinal criticizes tech censorship after Twitter account is suspended

Screenshot 2020 11 03 at 132342 Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague. | Petr Šálek (CC BY-SA 4.0).

A Czech cardinal has criticized online censorship after his Twitter account was restored days after it was suspended. 

Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague announced the reactivation of his account Oct. 31, but said that he had received no explanation for its suspension. 

The cardinal, who was imprisoned by the communist authorities in 1981-82, compared present-day censorship to that of the 1980s, saying that things were "not much different" today. 

"Now, however, on the basis of fictitious statements, it is not man who punishes, but artificial intelligence, led by the crowd to suppress 'wrong' ideas," he wrote on Twitter.

It is not clear when Twitter suspended Duka's account, but his account displays no posts between Oct. 14 and Oct. 31.

According to local media, when users searched for the account after its suspension, they received a message saying "Caution: This account is temporarily restricted."

Czech media said that a possible reason for the suspension was a tweet that Duka posted Oct. 1 linking to an article about the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The article, in the Konzervativní noviny (Conservative newspaper), criticized the Czech media's portrayal of Barrett as a member of a "Catholic sect."

Prague archdiocese tweeted Oct. 22 that this was "probably" the reason for the ban.

Reports also suggested that the account might have been suspended because of a breach of security.

But a spokesman for Duka said that the reason for the decision was unknown and he declined to speculate. 

Duka clashed with the communist government of Czechoslovakia after his ordination as a priest in Dominican order in 1970. 

In 1975, the authorities withdrew his authorization to serve as a priest. He worked in a Škoda factory, while continuing to minister in secret. 

When his priestly activities were discovered, along with his role in publishing dissident literature, he was sent to Bory Prison in Plzeň, where fellow inmates included future Czech President Václav Havel. Duka celebrated Mass for the prisoners under the guise of a chess club. 

Benedict XVI appointed him archbishop of Prague in 2010. 

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