Turkey Blocks Twitter As PM Plots To ‘Wipe It Out’
Twitter is investigating reports its service has been blocked in Turkey. The site has been awash with postings purporting to show corruption among the inner circle of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It comes just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the social networking site.
Some users trying to visit Twitter.com were redirected to a statement apparently from Turkey’s telecommunications regulator, which cited four court orders as the basis for blocking the site.
A government official confirmed the block to Reuters, saying that it was because of “problems with the management of Twitter.”
Twitter has yet to issue a formal statement, but the company did publish a tweet addressed to users in Turkey telling them how to continue tweeting via text message. EU commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, tweeted that the block in Turkey was “groundless, pointless, cowardly” and amounted to censorship.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele added that he was “gravely concerned” by the Turkish government’s actions. Mr Erdogan’s earlier threat to “wipe out” Twitter was in response to users posting voice recordings and documents purporting to show corruption among his inner circle, charges Mr Erdogan denies.
He told a crowd of supporters: “We will wipe out all of these. The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”
After his speech, Mr Erdogan’s office said in a statement he was referring to what it called Twitter’s failure to implement the court orders seeking the removal of some links.
“If Twitter officials insist on not implementing court orders and rules of law … there will be no other option but to prevent access to Twitter to help satisfy our citizens’ grievances.”
In one of the recordings Mr Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, allegedly instructs his son to dispose of large amounts of money from a residence.
The Prime Minister has said the recording was fabricated and part of moves to discredit his government ahead of key local elections on March 30.
He has directed his ire at Twitter before, labelling it “a scourge” after it was used to fuel a series of popular protests last summer.
Shortly after this a government minister asked Twitter to set up an office in the country so it could better communicate requests to remove content and hold it accountable under Turkish law. Twitter did not respond.
Mr Erdogan has also raised the possibility of blocking Facebook and YouTube, claiming they too have been abused by his enemies.
But a Turkish official said on Friday it has no intention of blocking Facebook or other social media platforms.