Just over a week after banning Twitter in his country, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan blocked YouTube as well, even though a Turkish court overruled the Twitter ban on Wednesday.
The Turkish government appears to have blocked the video-sharing site after a recording was posted to the site that allegedly showed government officials discussing potentially taking military action in Syria. The Turkish telecoms authority said it had taken an "administrative measure" to block the site, but some in Turkey are still able to access it.
Erdogan threatened to ban both YouTube and Facebook last month over these types of leaks, which have surfaced across Turkish social media before. According to the PM, the material posted to the sites are little more than slanderous efforts by his political opposition to sully his name ahead of national elections, slated to take place on March 30. The most recent audio leak especially raised the ire of Erdogan and his government — Erdogan called the action "villainous," adding "they even leaked a national security meeting... this is dishonesty... who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?" Reuters reported that it could not independently verify the recording, but added that officials within Erdogan's government implied it was authentic. Per Reuters:
The account posted what it presented as a recording of intelligence chief Hakan Fidan discussing possible military operations in Syria with Davutoglu, Deputy Chief of military Staff Yasar Guler and other top officials. Speaking to reporters in Kutahya, Davutoglu confirmed the meeting took place and said: "A cyber attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation. This is a clear declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation."
Turkey's foreign ministry, however, said some of the information had been "distorted."
If Turkey's YouTube ban is anything like its Twitter ban, however, it might not end up being all that effective. Despite the court's decision, Twitter is still blocked in the country, but users have figured out ways to skirt the ban. According to the BBC, Turkish tweeters even managed to use the social media to make fun of Erdogan for delivering a speech in an oddly high-pitched voice:
Earlier on Thursday, Erdogan gave a campaign speech in Van in the east of Turkey, for this weekend's local elections. His voice was unusually - and distinctly - high-pitched and squeaky. Almost instantly, the jokes began on Twitter. "I think the Twitter bird is trapped inside him," was one of the tweets. "We have asked you to be a world leader, and all you have become is a Teletubby," was another... Soon the hashtag #helyumlobisi - which translates as "helium lobby" - began the trend.
We hope Turkey's YouTube users are as creative.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.