The Turkish authorities’ move today to block access to YouTube on the eve of Sunday’s elections, and not long after they restricted access to Twitter, smacks of a wider pre-meditated crackdown on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.
According to media reports, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited national security concerns when it sought an administrative order to block the video-sharing platform – allegedly to prevent further circulation of a taped recording of discussions between senior Turkish officials on Syria.
“The Turkish government appears to be itching for pretexts to close down websites because of their capacity to mobilize dissenting opinion and broadcast embarrassing material,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.
“Coming just days before Turkey goes to the polls and in the wake of Prime Minister Erdoðan’s strident criticism of YouTube, this is clearly nothing more than a crude attempt at government censorship that will only generate deeper distrust and frustration.
“Even if the Turkish authorities have legitimate concerns about some of the content that might appear, it is completely disproportionate to enforce a blanket YouTube ban in the entire country. Access to YouTube must be restored immediately and the authorities must stop blocking sites that expose abuses and provide a platform for dissenting views.”