Turkey Blocks Youtube and Twitter Days Before Democratic Elections

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 27 2014 8:29 PM

Turkey Blocks Youtube and Twitter Days Before Democratic Elections

480886953-laptop-computer-showing-youtubes-logo-on-its-screen-is
A laptop showing Youtube's logo is held in front of graffiti on March 27, 2014 in Istanbul.

Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Turkey’s government banned Youtube. Last week, the country put the kibosh on Twitter. If Facebook is next on the chopping block, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have a millennial insurrection on his hands.

This isn’t the first time, however, Turkey has gone after Youtube—the site was blocked off and on between 2007 and 2010 after it refused to remove videos the government said were insulting to the founder of modern Turkey. Thursday’s move to block the site, the Wall Street Journal reports, “came just hours after a leaked recording published anonymously on YouTube purported to show a conversation in which Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against jihadist militants in Syria.” That's a pretty serious potential leak and Prime Minister Erdogan was not happy about the recording. "This is villainous, this is dishonesty... Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?" the Prime Minister said, according to the BBC.

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The nationwide blockage of Youtube and Twitter, however, also comes just days before important local elections in the country this weekend. Erdogan, and his ruling party, have been besieged with what appear to be tapped phone recordings implicating his family and inner circle in massive corruption deals. Youtube has been the primary receptacle for the recordings, Twitter the primary method of distributing them.

On the most recent tape, according to Agence France-Presse, a voice thought to belong to Turkey’s foreign minister is heard saying: "Between you and me, the prime minister said over the telephone that this (attack) should be used as an opportunity when needed.” The recording has given new pre-election fuel to opposotion parties in the country who have in the past accused the Prime Minister of planning military action in Syria as a political diversion from domestic problems, AFP reports.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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