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Turkey's Twitter Ban Met with Condemnation

White House, State Department and even Turkey's president criticize Ankara's banning of popular social networking site.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 3/21/2014, 11:39 PM

Twitter
Twitter
AFP photo

Turkey’s banning of Twitter was met with harsh criticism by the United States on Friday, AFP reported.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the order to prevent Turks from accessing the site was "contrary to Turkey's own expressed desire to be a model of democracy." 

"The United States supports freedom of expression in Turkey and opposes any action to encroach on the right to free speech," she told reporters, according to AFP.

"We urge the Turkish government to unblock its citizens' access to Twitter and ensure free access to all social media platforms," said Psaki.

The White House also condemned the ban, with spokesman Jay Carney telling reporters, "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 U.S. stands for around the world," added Carney.

Turkey blocked access to the popular social network site on Thursday night, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened he would do so.

Some users who tried to open the Twitter.com website were taken to a statement apparently from Turkey's telecommunications regulator (TIB). The statement cited four court orders as the basis for blocking the site, where some users in recent weeks have posted voice recordings and documents purportedly showing evidence of corruption among Erdogan's inner circle.

Just hours before the outage, Erdogan warned that he would “eradicate” Twitter in the wake of damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle that have spread across social networks in recent weeks.

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

Just two weeks ago, Erdogan threatened that his government could ban websites such as YouTube and Facebook after a raft of online leaks added momentum to a spiraling corruption scandal.

Recordings that were leaked 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.

Erdogan's government has been rocked by a vast corruption probe launched in December which saw dozens of people rounded up, including close business and political allies of the prime minister.

Meanwhile on Friday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul took issue Erdogan’s ban of Twitter, saying it was unacceptable.

Ironically, Gul’s condemnation of the Twitter ban was posted on his own Twitter account.

"One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms," Gul tweeted, according to Reuters. He said only individual Internet pages should be blocked if there is a court order on the grounds that a person's privacy is being violated.

At the same time, Gul himself recently signed into force a law which tightens controls over the internet, ignoring riots that broke in Turkey against the law.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)