EU, White House condemn Turkey's Twitter move

Friday, March 21, 2014

Foreign powers urge Turkish rethink on restricted access to micro-blogging site

Foreign powers urge Turkish rethink on restricted access to micro-blogging site

ANKARA/WASHINGTON – The United States and European Union members have rounded on Turkey's move to restrict access to the Twitter social media site after it was accused of ignoring Turkish court orders to remove certain web links over privacy concerns.

The Obama administration on Friday lashed out at Turkey’s restricted access to Twitter with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying:

“We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people's access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance and the universal rights that the U.S. stands for around the world.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also condemned the move, saying: “This action is contrary to Turkey's own express desire to uphold the highest standards of democracy and efforts to attract foreign investment.”

Calling on Turkey to “unblock its citizens’ access to Twitter and “ensure free access to all social media platforms” Psaki said that the United States had relayed its concerns to Turkish officials through its ambassador in Ankara. 

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office on Friday urged the authorities in Turkey to reconsider the apparent blocking of the site saying:

"Social media has a vital role to play in a modern democracy, and helps to promote transparency and vibrant public debate.”

It added that the UK had long-supported Turkey's accession to the EU, and it was important for it as a candidate country to promote the EU's core values of freedom of expression, democracy and the rule of law.

Germany's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Martin Schaefer said Turkey had long had deficiencies in freedom of thought and the press, while France's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Romain Nadal called the block "shocking".

Turkey's internet authority blocked access to Twitter late on Thursday, after a court issued an order demanding the website remove tweets containing certain links. Stating Twitter's management ignored calls from the Turkish government, the authorities said that it was not a ban but a temporary measure.

They added there were no plans to restrict access to any other social media or video-sharing websites. 

Twitter does not have an office in Turkey, despite Turkish authorities' requests for it to open a local branch.

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