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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid