White House 'deeply concerned' over Turkish effort to block Twitter

 

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the administration is deeply concerned the Turkish government attempted to block access to Twitter in the country.  

Carney said the administration has spoken to Turkey's government about the issue and has urged it to restore access to the social media service.

ADVERTISEMENT
"We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies," Carney said in a statement. 

The Twitter hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey was trending Friday morning, after a court blocked access to the site there.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "wipe out" the roots of the social media site after tweets with links to alleged phone recordings of Turkish officials engaging in corruption began to spring up ahead of the country's elections later this month. 

The State Department echoed the White House statement Friday. 

"We urge the Turkish government to unblock its citizens' access to Twitter and ensure free access to all social media platforms," State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. 

She said the U.S. ambassador in the country relayed the message to officials there. She said the actions run counter to the Turkish government's stated "desire to be a model of democracy."

She said the country remains a close ally of the United States. 

Many in the country continued to tweet through the blockage. And Twitter itself sent out a message instructing users how to continue to send messages through text message. Turkish President Abdullah Gul sent a tweet Friday that read: "A complete ban on social media platforms cannot be approved."

Some attempts to access the site merely timed out, while others were met with a webpage claiming that a "protection measure" had been taken to block the site pursuant to four court orders. The message appeared to be from Turkey's telecommunications regulatory agency. 

"We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon," the social media company tweeted Friday. 

An earlier statement from the Turkish prime minister’s office issued to Reuters said it would be forced to pull the social media site after it failed to comply with court orders to remove the tweets with links the to the recordings.

—Julian Hattem contribued.