Turkish president: Law does not permit 'all-out' online ban

Photo: Turkish president: Law does not permit 'all-out' online ban / Turkey

Turkish laws do not permit an all-out shutdown of Internet platforms, the country's president, Abdullah Gul, told reporters on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reported.

"However, links containing offensive content could be closed down," Gul told a press conference at Ankara's Esenboga Airport before travelling to the Netherlands to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit.

Gul was speaking in the wake of Turkey's controversial Twitter restrictions which were enforced last Thursday night.

"As you know Twitter is not shut down. The number of users doubled during the time it was said that Twitter was 'closed down.' That is how technology functions these days. We must know that," he said.

The Turkish president said that from time to time problems can arise with certain types of communication platforms.

"A healthy dialogue needs to be established with big communication companies before these problems arise," Gul said.

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. Claiming that Twitter's management ignored calls from the Turkish government, the authorities described the move as a temporary measure, not a ban.

Gul said that Turkish court orders were related to private accounts unconnected to political freedom and freedom of expression, adding that he hoped Twitter officials will take these legal instructions into consideration and remove illegal content.

"I hope that within a short time this problem will be over," Gul said. "Of course these are unpleasant situations for a developed country like Turkey, an important country in its region, which is also engaged in negotiations with the European Union."

The president also spoke on the issue of illegal wiretapping in Turkey, saying that he did not possess "any information till now" that he had been monitored. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Saturday that Gul had also been illegally tapped.

"But I cannot say it [wiretapping] is impossible because at the point that technology has reached it is impossible to block it completely," Gul said, adding that "related to this issue I want to say that I am not concerned or afraid."

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