The Turkish government has blocked access to Twitter just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the social media website.
Many users trying to access Twitter early on Friday were confronted with a notice from telecommunications regulator that cited court orders for the closure of the network.
At an election rally on Thursday, Erdogan said his government would eliminate Twitter in Turkey.
“We will wipe out Twitter. I do not care what the international community says,” Erdogan stated.
His office said in a statement that Twitter had ignored Turkish court orders to remove some links considered illegal and that Erdogan had turned his attention to the issue.
Turkey’s telecommunications authority (TIB) cited four court rulings on its website about Twitter, with one of them saying, “The protection measure has been taken for this website (twitter.com) according to the decision… of the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office and has been implemented by the TIB.”
The decision reportedly came after some internet users in recent weeks posted voice recordings and documents showing evidence of corruption among Erdogan’s inner circle.
The European Union commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, says the blocking was “groundless, pointless and cowardly.”
She said on her Twitter account that the Turkish “people and international community will see this as censorship. It is.”
Erdogan also said earlier this month that his government would consider shutting down the video-sharing website YouTube and the social media network Facebook after local elections, which are scheduled to be held on March 30.
In February, Turkey adopted a cyber law that allows the government to block websites without a court ruling.
Critics say Erdogan’s adoption of harsh measures is an attempt to contain the scandal probe involving some of his close allies.