Ankara accuses Twitter of allowing 'character assassinations'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 5:45am


Turkey's government has accused Twitter of allowing "systematic character assassinations" a day after social media users easily evaded a government attempt to block access to the network.

The attempted crackdown came after links to wiretapped recordings suggesting corruption were posted on Twitter, causing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government major embarrassment before local elections on March 30.

The government's effort to shut down the service backfired on Friday, with many finding ways to continue to tweet and mock the government for what they said was a futile attempt at censorship. Even President Abdullah Gul worked around the ban, tweeting that shutting down social media networks cannot "be approved". Turkey's move to block Twitter sparked a wave of international criticism.

All social media companies have to obey the laws of [Turkey] and they will
Lutfi Elvan, Communications Minister

Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu, said Twitter had begun on Saturday to close down accounts which the Turkish government has been complaining about. The report could not immediately be verified.

Government officials said on Friday that they were engaged in talks with Twitter and would restore access as soon as an agreement was reached. Twitter said it hoped the dispute would be resolved soon. The government accuses Twitter of refusing to remove offensive content despite Turkish court orders.

On Saturday, the Hurriyet newspaper and Twitter users said the clampdown had been expanded to Google's Domain Name System, which had provided many of Twitter's Turkish users an alternative means of gaining entry. Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan would not confirm that, saying he had not been informed about such a move. The Google system was accessible again on Saturday afternoon.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt used Twitter on Saturday to tell Turkey its efforts to block access to the social media network were "stupid". He said the blockade "isn't working and also backfiring heavily".

Ankara said the network was engaged in "systematic character assassinations" for hosting accounts where the leaked the wiretapped recordings had been posted. It said the audio tapes were "illegally acquired" or "fake and fabricated".

Communications Minister Elvan said: "Whether it's Twitter, Yahoo or Google, all social media companies have to obey the laws of [Turkey] and they will."