UK & World News

  • 7 March 2014, 15:05

Turkey Threatens Social Media Ban Over Leaks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his government could ban social media networks after recordings appeared online linking him with alleged corruption.

In an interview with private ATV television, he said: "There are new steps we will take in that sphere after March 30... including a ban (on YouTube, Facebook)."

But the country's President Abdullah Gul, himself a frequent social media user, said popular social networks could not be unplugged.

He said: "YouTube and Facebook are recognised platforms all over the world. A ban is out of the question."

Mr Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has been under mounting pressure after audio recordings were leaked last month in which he and his son allegedly discuss how to hide vast sums of money.

He has dismissed them as "completely untrue" and an "immoral" montage by rivals ahead of key local elections on March 30.

A series of other leaks on YouTube allegedly show Mr Erdogan meddling in trade deals and court cases.

Last month, Turkish MPs voted to allow the country's telecoms authority to block websites without a court order.

Protests during the summer in 2013 were largely organised through social media and many people used the sites for news on rallies after media outlets shied away from coverage.

Access to websites have been blocked in recent years in Turkey.

YouTube was banned for two years until 2010 because of material deemed insulting to the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Further restrictions allowed authorities to keep a record of someone's web activity for up to two years and block sites deemed insulting or an invasion of privacy.

The European Union has voiced "concerns" that the ban would limit freedom of expression.

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