First Twitter, now YouTube – the Turkish prime minister blocks the video-sharing site after what he called the “villainous” leak of a secret recording of top security officials on the site.
In the Turkish government’s second online intervention in as many weeks, it has blocked the video-sharing site YouTube after a recording was posted on the site which apparently shows top security officials in Turkey discussing possible military operations in Syria.
It follows the move last Friday to shut down Twitter, after two accounts posted recordings – which Mr Erdogan described as slanderous and fake – showing him as corrupt. The prime minister now believes the leaks are part of a plot to unseat him ahead of elections – but rather than addressing where the apparently high-level leaks are coming from, he is taking action against the platforms they are on.
And in the latest attempt to shoot the digital version of the messenger, government sources suggested late on Thursday that Turkey could block access to other social media platforms if national security is threatened – even though on Wednesday, a court overturned the initial Twitter ban.
YouTube was blocked on Thursday after an anonymous account posted what it presented as a recording of intelligence chief Hakan Fidan discussing possible military operations in Syria with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Deputy Chief of Military Staff Yasar Guler, and others.
The conversation appears to revolve around a possible operation to secure the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire. The tomb is permanently guarded by Turkish special forces and is located in an area of northern Syria largely controlled by militant Islamists.
This is villainous, this is dishonesty…Who are you serving? Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
Speaking to supporters at a rally ahead of crucial local elections at the weekend, Mr Erdogan said: “They even leaked a national security meeting. This is villainous, this is dishonesty… Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?”
The foreign ministry described the leak as a “wretched attack” on national security and said those behind it would receive the heaviest punishment. It said some sections of the recording had been manipulated. The recordings cannot be independently verified.
The Turkish telecoms authority said it had taken an “administrative measure” against YouTube, and YouTube owner Google said it was looking into reports that some users were unable to access the site.
London-based Turkish journalist Figen Gunes said: “It was only a couple of hours ago the YouTube ban was announced but already in Google when one makes a search by writing ‘YouTube ban’ in Turkish, the second suggestion that comes up is about ‘how to bypass the YouTube ban’. The previous YouTube ban and the recent Gezi movement in Turkey showed how the young generation is tech-savvy and still proves to be…
“Now, the YouTube ban informs us that Erdogan is striving to hold on to power regardless of international pressures reminding him of the importance of the rule of law. The YouTube ban is against the freedom of expression and it should be overturned immediately.”