News / Middle East

Sources: Turkey May Block More Social Media

An image of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on a Twitter account through a magnifying glass, March 21, 2014.
An image of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on a Twitter account through a magnifying glass, March 21, 2014.
Reuters
Turkey could block access to other social media platforms as well as YouTube and Twitter if users publish recordings or documents which threaten national security, government sources said on Thursday.

Turkish telecoms regulators moved to block YouTube on Thursday after an anonymous account posted what it presented as a leaked recording of a discussion between the country's intelligence chief, deputy head of the armed forces and foreign minister about possible military operations in Syria.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appeared on Wednesday to have succeeded in asserting a ban on the Twitter networking site in the run-up to critical local polls he fears could be influenced by what he calls fake online tapes accusing him of corruption.

An Ankara court upheld an appeal against the ban from the bar association but a source in Erdogan's office said the telecoms authority had 30 days to implement or appeal the decision.

The regulator did not immediately comment.

The ruling, despite a separate court challenge by Twitter describing the blocking order as "disproportionate and illegal", would allow the ban to stay in place until after the polls, an attempt to impede widely expected further releases of tapes.

Sunday's polls have assumed huge significance as a test for Erdogan as he fights graft accusations he says were fabricated by a former ally, U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Recent weeks have seen almost daily anonymous internet release of tapes of telephone conversations suggesting Erdogan was involved in corruption.

The prime minister calls them "montages".

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the leaked recordings.

Turkey's telecoms authority (TIB) blocked access to Twitter on Friday after Erdogan said he would "root out" the network.

The move provoked public outrage and drew international condemnation, with Erdogan's critics seeing it as the latest in a series of authoritarian steps to crush a graft scandal which has grown into the biggest challenge of his 11-year rule.

Tech-savvy Turks have quickly found workarounds, with Internet analysts reporting a surge in tweets since the ban was imposed, but the issue has become a tug-of-war between Erdogan's administration and the San Francisco-based microblogging site.

Twitter said it had suspended content related to two of three court orders given as the legal basis for the ban because they violated its own rules. But it was challenging a third order to remove an account accusing an ex-minister of graft.

"With all announced bases for the access ban addressed, there are no legal grounds for the blocking of our service in Turkey," it said in an official blog posting.

"We expect the government to restore access to Twitter immediately so that its citizens can continue an open online dialogue ahead of the elections," the statement said.

Twitter's legal challenge was also expected to be delayed by Turkish court procedures.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, seen as a more conciliatory figure at the top of the ruling AK Party than Erdogan, urged the telecoms authority to respect the Ankara court's decision.

"We abide by the court rulings, that's what the constitution orders. We may not like them, but we abide by them. If this decision is genuine ... then what TIB needs to do after this is obvious," Arinc told reporters in Hatay in televised comments.

'National security threat'

Erdogan on Tuesday accused Twitter of "threatening national security" and has repeatedly defended the ban during rallies in the run-up to the municipal elections on Sunday, his party's first test at the ballot box since the corruption scandal
erupted in December and since street protests last summer.

"Our problem is not Twitter itself but its approach ... The court ruling was conveyed to Twitter. It does not listen to it," Erdogan said in a TV interview late on Tuesday about the original decision to block access.  "You are threatening the national security of my country," he said in a voice strained by weeks of campaign rallies.

The controversy over the ban has added to an already febrile atmosphere ahead of Sunday's elections, with some rival candidates even warning of armed provocateurs and possible assassination attempts during the polls.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala called on candidates to behave responsibly, saying during a visit to the eastern city of Ezurum that "every measure" had been taken to secure the polls.

His AK Party is expected to continue to dominate the electoral map after the election and is aiming for around the 40 percent share of the vote it achieved at the last local polls in 2009, although close races are expected in Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkish assets firmed on Wednesday, pricing in expectations that a solid showing by the AK Party would ease months of political uncertainty in the country.

Telecoms regulators have said the Twitter blockage was based on four court orders and was imposed after complaints from citizens that the microblogging site was violating privacy.

Erdogan's declaration last week that he would root out Twitter, and the subsequent attempt to block it in Turkey, triggered denunciations from European officials and the U.S. government, which spoke of "21st century book burning".

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 28, 2014 4:12 PM
Sir please do not mind me telling you Mr Prime Minister of Turkey... It is one thing to blind people from day one of such things... But to allow them to see it, then blindfold them after, will only cause serious grief. You can't easily take human rights away without serious consequences from the people. They will not vote for you again, and likely create more opposition in your parliment and country as a whole. People anywhere in the world should be allowed to have 100% freedom. Freedom of speech, read, and computers. No sense trying to cover their eyes, it makes things much worse :(... You should think of something else because it just isn't going to work in your favor. People love their freedom, please don't start taking it away...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid