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Turkish President Posts Message On Twitter Saying Social Media Bans Are Unacceptable

posted 21 Mar 2014, 07:44 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 07:45 ]

Turkish President Abdullah Gul posts a message on Twitter saying the ban on the social media platform is unacceptable, as the country's main opposition party prepares to launch a legal challenge against a court order blocking the website.

 INTERNET (MARCH 21, 2014) (TWITTER WEBPAGE) - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Friday (March 21) that it was unacceptable to impose complete bans on social media platforms after a court decision to block access to Twitter.

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Posting on his own Twitter page, Gul said only individual Internet pages should be blocked if a court ruled that an individual's privacy had been violated, adding he hoped the current block would not last long.

Turkey's courts blocked access to Twitter following a vow from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, on the campaign trail ahead of key March 30 local elections, to "wipe out" the service.

In a defiant stand, Erdogan said he did not care what the international community had to say about it.

The Prime Minister, who has been in power for 11 years, is battling a corruption scandal that has been fed by social media awash with alleged evidence of government wrongdoing.

Gul, however, took to Twitter himself to say complete bans on social media platforms were unacceptable and to voice his hope that the block would be short-lived.

"One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms," Gul tweeted.

He said only individual Internet pages should be blocked if there is a court order on the grounds that a person's privacy is being violated.

Gul co-founded the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party with Erdogan and has remained a close ally.

But he is viewed as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister and their relations have at times appeared strained.

Turkey's main opposition party said it would challenge the ban and file a criminal complaint against Erdogan on the grounds of violating personal freedoms.

The country's bar association filed a separate court challenge.

"We will file a complaint against the block access, against the ruling by Istanbul court. We are preparing a petition and we will submit it this afternoon around 2.30 p.m. (1230gmt). As a citizen of this country as a lawmaker I will file a complaint against twitter ban." CHP Deputy Levent Gok told a news conference on Friday.

In the run up to the elections, the president has been hesitant to openly criticise Erdogan, despite the brewing scandal and the lather's increasing claims of a conspiracy against his government

Erdogan's ruling AK Party has already tightened Internet controls, handed government more influence over the courts, and reassigned thousands of police and hundreds of prosecutors and judges as it fights a corruption scandal he has cast as a plot by political enemies to oust him.

Telecoms watchdog BTK said the social media platform had been blocked by the courts after complaints were made by citizens that it was breaching privacy.

It said Twitter had ignored previous requests to remove content.

Twitter users in Turkey began reporting widespread outages in direct connections overnight.

Some users trying to open the website were taken to a statement apparently from another regulator citing four court orders as the basis for the ban.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it was looking into the matter but had not issued a formal statement.

The company did publish a tweet addressed to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message.