USA Today March 27, 2014
Turkey on Thursday blocked access to YouTube following its recent order banning Twitter after someone posted an audio recording in which senior Turkish officials are purportedly discussing a scheme to create a pretext for waging war on Syria.
The audio claims to be a recording of Turkey’s foreign minister, its intelligence chief and an undersecretary of foreign affairs discussing plans to stage attacks on Turkey from Syrian soil to justify waging a counterattack on Syria, says Ilhan Tanir of the Turkish Daily Today’s Zaman in Istanbul.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the recording had been manipulated, but at a rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to confirm the leak was genuine, according to the BBC.
“They even leaked a national security meeting,” he said. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty. … Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?”
The YouTube blockage caused an uproar across Turkey, with most newspapers carrying the news at the top of their Web pages.
A telecommunications authority Web page gave the following information for YouTube.com: “After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the law, an administrative measure has been taken for this website.”
In an e-mailed statement from Google Inc., which owns YouTube, spokeswoman Abbi Tatton said the company had seen reports that some users in Turkey weren’t able to access YouTube.
“There is no technical issue on our side and we’re looking into the situation,” she said.
The move came a day after a court in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, said the government could not continue a ban it imposed on Twitter last week. Many Turkish users found ways to access Twitter despite the ban.
Erdogan had ordered Twitter blocked March 20, after the microblogging site refused to suspend anonymous accounts that linked to alleged recordings of Erdogan and his son talking about hiding money from police on a day of raids during a corruption investigation.
Erdogan called the recordings false and an invasion of privacy, and has said that the ban on Twitter could be extended to YouTube and Facebook.
The leak comes three days before elections Sunday for local offices, a referendum on Erdogan’s rule that could hurt his governing coalition if his party preforms badly.
YouTube was blocked about two or three hours after the audio appeared on an anonymous YouTube account, revealed publicly via Twitter, Tanir said.
The video contains audio and written text of a conversation that was allegedly recorded in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ building between intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, army deputy chief of staff Yasar Guler, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Those talking discuss several options on what to do “if they wanted to create a reason to wage” war on Syria, Tanir said. Those recorded also talked about plans for a potential no-fly zone over Syria distributed by U.S. officials.