Turkey Bans YouTube Less Than A Week After Banning Twitter

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Turkey has banned YouTube after the video sharing website was used to disseminate a leaked recording of government officials. The news comes only a week after the Islamist government banned Twitter, vowing to show the "power of the Turkish republic." The news comes three days before local elections, which are considered crucial to determining the government's mandate.

The ban was put in place by the Telecommunication Directorate (TIB). It used new sweeping powers granted by new legislation regarding internet usage passed February 6. A notice on the TIB website made the announcement.

The leaked video, which prompted the shutdown, showed ministers discussing a possibile attack on Syria with a high-ranking general. A partial transcript in English is being shared on social media. If genuine, it includes evidence that Turkey was planning a "false flag attack" on its own soil in order to provide justification for entering the war. 

Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block YouTube and Facebook in the past. He called social media the "worst menace to society." Corruption allegations have dogged his administration for months. Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil told Clarion Project last week that "everyone who opposes Erdogan lives in fear."

Erdogan's policies have caused widespread anger in Turkey. Most recently, protests flared up after the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15 year-old boy who died in early March after surviving in a nine-month coma. Police had shot him in the head with a tear gas canister at a protest.

It remains to be seen what response this latest attack on civil liberties will provoke in Turkey.

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David Harris

David Harris is the editor in chief of Clarion Project.