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Friday, March 21, 2014
Twitter Blocked in Turkey

Twitter access was blocked in Turkey after the country's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the microblogging service ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal.

Erdogan threatened to "rip out the roots" of the social network where links have proliferated to recordings that appear to incriminate him and other top officials in corruption.

Turkey's Information Technology and Telecommunications Board, or BTK, said Twitter had been blocked upon "complaints from our citizens" and "violations of personal rights and privacy," according to a statement on its website today.

"The Internet site called Twitter has ignored decisions made by the courts of the Republic of Turkey," the board said in the statement. "Left with no other choice to prevent the incompensable victimization of our citizens, a preventive measure blocking access to Twitter has been imposed in line with court decisions."

The EU commissioner on digital affairs, Neelie Kroes, tweeted on Thursday (20 March) that Turkey's move "is groundless, pointless, cowardly. Turkish people and intl [international] community will see this as censorship. It is."

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, himself a prolific user of the US micro-blogging site, noted: "Erdogan is not only damaging himself, but his entire nation."

The EU's former ambassador to Turkey, Marc Pierini, now an analyst at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, said: "Turkey is estranging itself from the world."

The ban entered into force shortly before midnight on Thursday.

Erdogan's press service noted: "It is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relieve our citizens."

The "court rulings" refer to a Twitter account called Haramzadeler, meaning "son of thieves" in Turkish, which has been publishing leaked documents on alleged corruption in Erdogan?s inner circle.

A Turkish official told Reuters "at the moment there is no [similar] decision for other social media like Facebook."

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