World
Turkey blocks Twitter after PM's threat to 'wipe out' service
Publish Date: Mar 21, 2014
Turkey blocks Twitter after PM's threat to 'wipe out' service
(FILES) This file picture dated on February 25, 2014 shows Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a session at the Turkish parliament in Ankara. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Fulya OZERKAN

ANKARA - Twitter went dark in Turkey late Thursday, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "wipe out" the social network which, along with others, was highlighting corruption allegations against his inner circle.

The state-run Anatolia news agency said authorities "technically blocked access to Twitter" because the service had ignored various Turkish court orders to remove some links deemed illegal.

Twitter responded by saying on its official @policy feed that Turks could get around the block by tweeting through mobile telephone text services.

In early reaction, the EU commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, tweeted that the block in Turkey "is groundless, pointless, cowardly".

She added that the "Turkish people and international community will see this as censorship. It is."

The restriction of access to Twitter came after Erdogan told a rally drumming up support for March 30 local elections that he would eradicate Twitter access in the country.

"We will wipe out Twitter. I don't care what the international community says," he said.

Erdogan's office said in a statement that Twitter had remained "indifferent" to Turkish court rulings demanding "some links" be removed, and that the premier therefore had turned his attention to the matter.

The website for the country's telecommunications authority (TIB) turned up four separate court rulings referencing "twitter.com".

One of them said: "The protection measure has been taken for this website (twitter.com) according to the decision... of the Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office and has been implemented by the TIB."

Anatolia ran a report saying a Twitter block was the only solution to "address the unjust treatment of our citizens".

- Graft allegations tweeted -

Erdogan, Turkey's charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader since 2003, has come under mounting pressure since audio recordings spread across social media that appeared to put him at the heart of a major corruption scandal.

Recordings include an apparent discussion between Erdogan and his son about hiding money, as well as others in which he appears to be interfering in business deals, court cases and media coverage.

Some of the most damaging information has come from a Twitter account under the name Haramzadeler ("Sons of Thieves"), which appears to have access to a huge trove of secret documents and police wiretaps linked to the investigation.

Erdogan has dismissed most of the recordings as "vile" fakes concocted by his rivals, and threatened to ban YouTube and Facebook after crucial local elections on March 30.

"This has nothing to do with freedoms. Freedom does not mean the right to intrude on someone's privacy, or to pass the state's secrets to the international arena," Erdogan said on Thursday.

The prime minister is openly suspicious of the Internet, and last year called Twitter a "menace" for helping organise mass anti-government protests.

A vast corruption probe launched in December saw dozens of people rounded up, including close business and political allies of the prime minister.

The Turkish strongman has accused associates of a former staunch ally -- US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen -- of being behind the graft probe that claimed the scalps of four ministers.

Gulen has denied any involvement.

Turkey recently tightened government control of the Internet and the judiciary, generating criticism from rights groups.

The country, which has more than 10 million Twitter users, has seen access to thousands of sites blocked in recent years.

YouTube was banned for two years up to 2010 because of material deemed insulting to the country's revered founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Internet Publishers Association, a body representing online and media companies, said the move to block Twitter was an attempt to "destroy freedom of expression".

"The prime minister having the power to shut down Twitter will be the confirmation of dictatorship," it said in a statement published by local media.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
New UN rep for S.Sudan warns of
The new UN chief for South Sudan arrived in the conflict-wracked country Tuesday, a week after gunmen shot down a UN helicopter....
Nuns go public for first time in 150 years
A group of Ecuadoran nuns opened the doors of their convent to the outside world Saturday - a first since the order arrived in the South American country 150 years ago....
Obama’s cool-in-a-crisis style – asset or liability?
Obama''s cool-in-a-crisis style and disdain for the impulsive use of military force is fueling criticism of his leadership....
Ukraine rebels prepare attack as EU warns Russia of new sanctions
Pro-Russian separatists were preparing a fresh offensive on a key coastal location in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, as EU leaders gave Moscow one week to curb its support for the rebels or face new sanctions....
EU readies new Russia sanctions as Ukraine conflict spirals
The European Union geared up a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia on Saturday with warnings that the escalating conflict in Ukraine was putting all of Europe at risk of war....
Deadly Ebola hits 5th West African nation
The deadly Ebola epidemic has spread to a fifth country in West Africa with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal....
Do you think banning the sale of single cigarette sticks will help regulate tobacco production?
yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter