The Turkish Government Threatens To Ban Twitter In The Wake Of Leaked Documents
Officials from the Turkish government have threatened to close down Twitter in the country unless the social media site agrees to block the account of the BirGun, a left-wing newspaper that published some documents detailing a military police raid on Turkish Intelligence Agency trucks that were bound for Syria in January 2014. The documents also hinted at ties between Turkish government and Al-Qaeda.
On Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, a local court in Adana (a city located in the Southern Turkey) issued an order to cease any on-going media coverage of the investigation. This raised the possibility of a potential ban on social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus) where any document related to the legal proceedings were circulated.
The court has, furthermore, declared that circulation of such sensitive documents violated the country’s national security laws and caused hindrance in the ongoing investigations.
The Turkish government, on the other hand, has outrightly denied any claims stating that the trucks were dispatched to bring humanitarian aid to the Turkish minority living in Syria. The officials also denied any ties with extremists fighting against the leadership of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
Following the court order, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus removed all information concerning the documents related to this issue in order to avoid a potential ban. Despite removal, BirGun newspaper kept on sharing the content which clearly is a challenge to Turkish court.
One thing to note here is that Twitter did not block BirGun’s account, but only posts shared from it. Speaking to NYTimes about the issue, a Twitter spokesperson Nu Wexler stated:
Out of the almost 60,000 tweets on the account, Twitter withheld access in Turkey to the small number of tweets that discussed the national security issue referenced in the order. We continue to work diligently to protect the rights of our users and preserve access for millions of Twitter users in Turkey.
In March last year, Turkish government blocked access to Twitter and YouTube following a leak of governments’ secret military operations in Syria. Twitter, however, went online after a fortnight.