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Social networks again blocked in Turkey

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Turkish judicial officials have once again blocked major social networking websites over what they call a “terrorist propaganda” in the wake of a hostage standoff that saw a Turkish prosecutor killed by leftist militants.

Hurriyet newspaper said Monday that access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was blocked upon an order from prosecutors reportedly due to the publication of images related to last week’s hostage drama in Istanbul.

According to the daily, a deadline of four hours was set for the websites to remove the controversial content. Only Facebook has complied with the deadline. Reports say service providers have restored access to Facebook accordingly.

A total of 166 websites, including the three major social networking platforms, have been blocked upon the order which aimed to prevent “terrorist propaganda” inciting people to “hatred and violence” and disturbing the public order, according to the text of the court ruling, a copy of which was published on Youtube.com.

Last Tuesday, a shootout at a courthouse in Istanbul led to the killing of Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz and the two leftist militants who took him hostage. The captors were later declared to be members of the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

Images of the hostage taking, which was released by the DHKP-C, later circulated on social media with several Turkish newspapers and news websites running them on their front-pages. The publication of the images triggered a probe by Turkish prosecutors for what they said was the spread of terrorism in the country.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency, on Monday called the publication of the images “totally unacceptable.”

However, Dutch member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake, criticized the move, saying the ban was “another disproportionate response restricting press freedom” in Turkey.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been widely criticized for its tightening control over the Internet with many accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of trying to eradicate the social networks like Twitter to protect his grip on power.


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