Turkey PM blocks Twitter in election build-up

By James Riches topicIcon Social Media

Social media site blocked as elections loom

Turkey's government has barred citizens from accessing Twitter just days before its elections, as its Prime Minister battles ongoing allegations of corruption.

Users trying to access the site have been presented with a message citing "protection measures" imposed by up to four court orders.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who leads the ruling AK Party, blasted the social media site, saying he would "wipe out" Twitter to prevent his political enemies from campaigning against him.

The Prime Minister also addressed the possibility of sanctions from the international community for a potential block on free speech. He said: "I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is."

It follows a political scandal that has been ongoing since last year. Three ministers (who have since resigned) and their sons were accused of phone tapping, surveillance, bribery and smuggling.

The speaker of the house was given a prosecutor's report offering more details about the case, but declined to have it read out. It is the subsequent appearance on Twitter of text allegedly matching this document that is believed to have prompted the ban.

Twitter yet to respond to Turkish government comments

The Turkish government is believed to have clashed with Twitter over its requests to remove content. Officials have previously asked the company to open an office in Turkey to help deal with these issues and ensure compliance with Turkish law, but Twitter has so far declined to accept this proposal.

In fact, it has issued no formal response at all to the Turkish government statements, instead supplying the country's 10 million users with instructions on how to continue using the site via other means.

Turkey has a history of disagreements with sites such as Twitter, Google and Facebook, particularly when it comes to requests to remove content, while other countries such as North Korea and Iran have also previously been criticised for censoring tweets.

The move has been condemned by many Twitter users and political figures, with even Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, finding a way around the ban to tweet his opposition to the decision. Mr Gul said he hoped the ban "would not last long" as it was "unacceptable".

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, said: "Twitter does not take down content unless there is a good reason, so it is no surprise to see them standing their ground in this case."