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 Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid