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March 24, 2014

Turkish PM Strengthens Ban of Twitter

Erdogan Also Threatens to Ban YouTube, Facebook

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains defiant after banning Twitter in his country and, in a speech at a Sunday election rally, painted social media as a blight on society.

“I cannot understand how sensible people still defend Facebook, YouTube and Twitter,” he said. “They run all kinds of lies.”

His actions come as Turkish citizens get ready to vote in the local elections March 30.

Turkish courts first took Twitter offline on Thursday following allegations by the Islamic-rooted government that the microblogging site was being used “to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Reuters is reporting.

The recordings are supposedly of Erdogan talking to his son about hiding large amounts of money and impeding court cases, business deals and media coverage.

Erdogan called the recordings “vile” attempts by his political adversaries to cast him in a bad light just before the election and instituted the Twitter ban after the social network refused to remove the files.

Twitter is not the only network on the receiving end of Erdogan’s wrath, however. He is also furious with YouTube for refusing to remove YouTube videos that infer the government is corrupt.

Erdogan had a few choice words not only for Twitter and Google’s YouTube, but Facebook as well, all of which he wants permanently banned.

“Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have to respect the Turkish republic’s laws,” he said, adding that the sites selectively support freedom depending on the country. “Turkey is not a banana republic.”
He said Twitter follows the law in the United States, Britain, China, Russia and other countries but not in Turkey or Egypt where the social network “talks about freedom.”

Erdogan also, over the weekend, blocked a method provided by Google to enable citizens to circumvent the Twitter embargo, Bloomberg said. Those who had set their PC or mobile device to use Google’s DNS IP address of 8.8.8.8 were able to bypass the ban, but the government on Saturday barred access to Google DNS.

President Abdullah Gul has said he is hopeful the government will soon lift the Twitter ban.

“I believe this problem will be over soon,” Gul was quoted by the Times of India. “This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union.”

Gul told the Times Sunday it was “not legally possible” to block citizens from accessing the Internet or social media platforms.

The White House is also chiding Erdogan for his actions, releasing the following statement:

The United States is deeply concerned that the Turkish government has blocked its citizens’ access to basic communication tools.  We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance and the universal rights that the United States stands for around the world.  We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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