Turkey blocks Twitter, YouTube on hostage photo

Turkish authorities have blocked access to Twitter and YouTube over their refusal to remove photos of a prosecutor who was taken hostage by militants in Istanbul. The ban on Facebook, on the other hand, has been lifted after the website complied with the court ruling.

A number of Turkey’s leading Internet service providers implemented the ban in the afternoon of April 6, an official confirmed after widespread complaints about access problems to the social media websites.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Internet Service Providers Union (ESB) Secretary General Bülent Kent stressed that “the procedure continues” as all service providers are expected to implement the ban immediately.

A recent court ruling seen by daily Hürriyet ordered authorities to block a total of 166 websites that published the controversial photos. Beside the world’s largest social media websites in the list, there are also specific links to the stories published by Turkish newspapers.

Tayfun Acarer, the head of the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK), told daily Hürriyet that the ban on Facebook had been lifted after it rapidly complied with the court ruling on April 6.

YouTube.com ran the text of a court ruling on its site saying an “administration measure” had been implemented by the country’s telecommunications authority (TIB).

Two militants with alleged links to the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took Mehmet Selim Kiraz, the prosecutor in the controversial case of the killing of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan, hostage in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on March 31.

Kiraz succumbed to his injuries in hospital after the eight-hour hostage drama, during which security forces killed the two captors.

Wife, children of slain prosecutor ‘upset’ over photos

“The wife and children of prosecutor Kiraz have been deeply upset. The images are everywhere,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters. “A request has been made to both Twitter and YouTube for the removal of the images and posts but they have not accepted it and no response has been given. That’s why this decision has been taken through a court in Istanbul.”

On April 1, a total of 13 media organizations and journalists had their access banned for the press conference and the funeral ceremony of Kiraz at the Eyüp Sultan Mosque on April 1 for publishing photos showing Kiraz as a hostage.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu later announced that he gave the instruction to withhold accreditation.

Separately, a criminal investigation into seven Turkish newspapers for publishing the hostage photo was launched on April 2.

Daily Hürriyet, one of the targets of the accreditation ban and the investigation, rejected Davutoğlu’s accusations in an editorial on April 3. “We just want to do journalism. We do not want to face bans with policemen waiting on street corners, trying to prevent our colleagues from doing their work,” it said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News