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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora