Turkey Bans YouTube

Turkey Prime Minister

Turkey banned YouTube Thursday just days after banning the social networking site Twitter.

The ban is enacted before nationwide municipal elections being held Sunday. Neither website can be reached on Turkish networks.

The Turkish government enacted the ban after leaked audio files of state security meetings were leaked about possible military action against Syria.

CNN reported until Wednesday all of the wiretaps seemed to be recordings of phone conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his inner circle, government officials and some top corporate executives.

Erdogan has been embroiled in a corruption scandal. In one leaked file, a male voice which sounds like the Prime Minister instructs his son to hide tens of millions of dollars in cash from investigators.

The Radio and Television Supreme Council, Turkey’s media regulating agency announced “It is seen as appropriate that a temporary broadcast ban be implemented on the voice recordings on social media and alleged to be between the foreign minister, the head of the National Intelligence Agency and military officials.” There is a similar ban on the broadcast of the conversation to television and radio channels.

Erdogan said at a campaign event, “They have leaked something on YouTube. It was a meeting on our national security. It is a vile, cowardly, immoral act. We will go into their caves. Who are you serving by eavesdropping?”

Turkey’s government accused social media, including Twitter and Facebook being used to spread false information and lies since the conversations have been online. Erdogan called the recordings “immorally edited material.”

Google, which owns YouTube issued a statement-“We’re seeing reports that some users are not able to access YouTube in Turkey. There is no technical issue on our side and we’re looking into the situation.”

A Turkish court this week overruled the government’s ban on Twitter, but the website is still blocked. Turkish telecommunication regulator TIB has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Yahoo reported one recording features a voice that sounds like that of Turkey’s spy chief Hakan Fidan saying “If needed we will launch an attack there.” The voice also talks about dispatching “four men” and launching missiles, adding: “It is not a problem. A justification can be fabricated.”

European and American allies condemned the YouTube ban.

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US had been “very strongly saying that they need to stop doing this.”

Parliament opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said Erdogan “could decide to move the army into Syria before the elections. Don’t send Turkey on an adventure.”

[Image via The Atlantic Post]