Turkish Government Blocks YouTube Access Following Video Leak

Turkey Security - Shutterstock - © Kheng Guan Toh

YouTube ban follows last week’s shutdown of Twitter in the country

Turkish authorities have ordered the shutdown of YouTube in the country, marking the latest in a series of battles against social media by the nation’s government.

The action comes following reports that a recording of a meeting of top security officials discussing possible military action in Syria was leaked to the site. The meeting was apparently attended by Turkey’s intelligence chief, its foreign minister and the deputy head of the armed forces.

Telecommunications authority TIB said it had taken measures to impose a block on YouTube in the country, a week after it applied similar restrictions on Twitter, with a TIB statement saying that “After technical analysis and legal consideration…. an administrative measure has been taken for this website.”

small_youtube01‘National security issue’

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the posting of the video, which contained an audio file with photographs of the officials involved in the discussion, a ‘declaration of war’.

At a rally yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the posting as “villainous”, with a source at the Prime Minister’s office stating that the videos had caused “a national security issue”.

However it seems that some users are still able to access the site via a proxy network, similar to the situation that unfolded following the country’s Twitter ban last week, where DNS access codes were posted around Turkey’s major cities.

The YouTube block comes a day after a Turkish court overturned the Twitter  ban. Originally applied last week, the ban followed accusations from Prime Minster Erdogan that the site was spreading false rumours of a corruption scandal involving high-ranking government officials. The allegations resulted in Erdogan vowing to “root out Twitter”, claiming it was “threatening national security” ahead of upcoming elections on 30 March.

Reacting to the ban, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States opposes “any action that encroaches on the right of free speech or free expression.”

Harf said U.S. officials “continue to urge the Turkish government to unblock its citizens’ access now to YouTube, but also still to Twitter.”

Google, YouTube’s owner, said it was looking into reports that some users in Turkey were unable to access the site, but confirmed that there was no technical problem with its side.

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Author: Mike Moore
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