Turkey has blocked access to social networking site Twitter, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying he “does not care” what the international community thinks. The court order blocking the site comes just days before local elections, during a corruption scandal that has engulfed Erdogan’s government.
The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party have already restricted access to various websites, extended government influence over the judiciary, and reassigned thousands of police officers, as they fight an ongoing scandal, according to Reuters.
On the campaign trail yesterday, Mr Erdogan said he would “wipe out” Twitter, and just a few hours later national telecoms watchdog BTK said the site had been blocked after complaints about repeated breaches of privacy.
“Because there was no other choice, access to Twitter was blocked in line with court decisions to avoid the possible future victimization of citizens,” BTK said.
Speaking at a rally yesterday, Mr Erdogan said, “Twitter, mwitter! We will wipe out all of these! The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”
Mr Erdogan and his party maintain that the scandal is a conspiracy and political smear campaign by their opponents. Senior members of the ruling party are alleged to be involved in a bribery and smuggling racket.
Details of the racket were posted on Twitter, leading to three cabinet ministers resigning, and their sons being arrested.
Initial reports suggest the block has been largely unsuccessful, with many users finding ways to circumvent it, and the hastag #Twitterisblockedinturkey trending world-wide.