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.
The restriction of access to Twitter came after Mr. 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.
‘Ignored court rulings’
Mr. 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.”
Meanwhile the move has sparked outrage from the opposition and the European Union — which Ankara has long sought to join — as well as Mr. Erdogan’s own administration.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a frequent user of social media, led the chorus of calls against the move.
“A complete ban on social media platforms cannot be approved,” he said, adding that it is not “technically possible to totally block access to platforms used all over the world.”
Opposition lawmaker Aykan Erdemir said his party would take “legal action” against the ban, warning that the move would put Turkey into a league of undemocratic countries like China.
European leaders said the move violated citizen’s rights to freedom of speech and could threaten Turkey’s bid to enter the 28-nation bloc. Ankara is already the world’s top jailer of journalists. — AFP