Turkish President Gul Defies Erdogan's Move to Close Twitter

World | March 21, 2014, Friday // 16:32|  views

Turkish Twitter users rapidly managed to find ways around the ban, Photo by EPA/BGNES

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul challenged on Friday the ban on Twitter imposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gul himself used Twitter to express criticism, by posting on his account that "shutdown was unacceptable".

On Thursday evening, Erdogan vowed to close the social network, through which a series of wiretapped conversation allegedly proving corruption in the cabinet have reached Turkish society.

Erdogan claimed that "everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic" and he did not care "what the international community says at all," as the BBC quoted him as saying. Hurriyet Daily News also reveals he expressed readiness to "eradicate" the micro-blogging platform.

Later on, Prime Minister's spokesman said the measure had been taken after the social media had failed to respond to a court ruling to remove links from the platform.

On Friday morning, millions of Twitter users reported they were unable to into their accounts, even though the ban later proved to be futile as many ways could be found to circumvent it.

In response President Gul, who had previously approved a controversial Internet bill allowing for the closure of websites by the Turkish Telecommunications Authority, said Friday that sites should be blocked if courts found that they had violated personal privacy. He also said he hoped the ban would not last long.

Earlier he also turned on Erdogan when the latter suggested he might crack down on social media to put an end to what he considers a plot against the government led by his rival Fethullah Gulen.

The EU expressed criticism at Turkey's move to shut down Twitter, with EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele saying he was "gravely concerned." European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes even described the move as "groundless, pointless, cowardly".

Twitter did not immediately comment on the issue, but announced later it had hired a lawyer to negotiate with the Turkish Telecommunications Authority and discuss a possible legal solution.

Some Turkish ministers tried meanwhile to justify the move, with Forestry Minister Veysel Eroglu quoted by Hurriyet Daily as saying that blocking Twitter would ensure a more peaceful election and will prevent the spreading of "sensational and deceitful news".

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Tags: turkey, Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gul, Abdullah Gul, Twitter, Stefan Fuele


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