The President of Turkey , Abdullah Gul, ruled on Friday (7) any suspension to Facebook and YouTube after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threatened to ban them in an attempt to prevent political opponents anonymously disclose recordings that allegedly reveal cases of corruption and other irregularities on the part of his inner circle.
In the most recent recording, issued late on Thursday (6) on YouTube, Erdogan is supposedly heard on the phone screaming insults the owner of a newspaper because of an article and suggesting that journalists were dismissed, a material which should accentuate the concerns about press freedom and the authoritarian style of Erdogan.
The prime minister, who denies any reports of corruption, accusing his former ally Fethullah Gullen, a Turkish Muslim preacher living in the USA, the “manufacture” audio recordings. Gulen, who denies involvement, has many followers in Turkey, especially within the police and judiciary.
President Gul, co-founder of the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party, Erdogan said that freedom of expression is an important value held by the government’s own reforms.
“Close (social media sites) is out of the question,” Gul said, when asked about the threat of Erdogan, adding that, according to a recent law, authorities could block access to material on websites, the privacy a person is violated.
“We are always proud of the reforms we have made in relation to the expansion of freedoms,” he added.
In an interview with local broadcaster ATV, transmitted late on Thursday, Erdogan had raised the option of banning Facebook and YouTube after the local elections of March 30.
“We are determined on this subject. Will not let this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook … We will take the necessary measures in the strongest way,” he said.
On the possibility of such measures include the removal of air sites, he said: “They include, because these people or institutions encourage all kinds of immorality and spying for his own purposes.”
There was no immediate reaction from Facebook and YouTube.
Turkey banned YouTube for over two years until 2010 after users posted videos that the government deemed insulting to the founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Recently, the government tightened control of the Internet, citing the need to protect the privacy of users. Erdogan’s critics say the new law was another attempt to stifle the accusations of corruption that invade social networks and video sharing sites.
Erdogan says these allegations are part of a campaign to discredit him and destabilize his government. According to him, real conversations fragments were used in a “montage”. Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the recordings.