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'We'll Eradicate Twitter,' Turkey's Prime Minister Vows

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Adam Berry
Getty Images
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reeling from the anonymous release of audio that seems to implicate him in a corruption scandal, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would ban Twitter, no matter what the international community says.

"We now have a court order. We'll eradicate Twitter," Erdogan told supporters according to Hurriyet Daily News. The paper adds:

"The Press Advisory of the Prime Ministry has later in the night clarified Erdogan's statement, arguing that Twitter officials currently 'ignore' some court rulings in Turkey, which order the social media platform to 'remove some links' as per the complaints filed by Turkish citizens.

"'(In Erdoğan's speech) it is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relief our citizens,' the statement said."

Reuters reports that shortly after the statement, Twitter said it was looking into reports that the service had been blocked in Turkey.

In a tweet, the service told its users they might be able to circumvent the block by sending their tweets via text message.

Time reports that Erdogan's party is facing a tough reelection campaign. Time explains:

"In recent weeks, audio recordings purportedly of Erdogan and his allies have been circulating online, ahead of local elections later in March. The latest recordings, published on YouTube on Thursday, claim to be of Erdogan suggesting that the proprietor of a Turkish newspaper sack two journalists over a lead story about Kurdish peace talk efforts. Other recordings are allegedly of him telling his son to dispose of large amounts of money before police raids as part of a graft investigation last year.

"Erdogan, who has been in power since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the elections in 2002, maintains that the moderate U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen is attempting to discredit him with what he says are fabricated recordings."

Reuters reports that during his rally, Erdogan said they would "wipe out all" platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

"The international community can say this, can say that. I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is," Erdogan said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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