ANKARA, Apr 12 – Turkey’s prime minister said Saturday he will “go after” Twitter, accusing the site of tax-evasion, after it was used to spread damaging leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption scandals.
“Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are international companies established for profit,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in televised remarks. “Twitter is at the same time a tax evader. We will go after it.”
Erdogan’s government on March 20 banned access to the social media site, sparking outrage among Turkey’s NATO allies and international human rights groups who viewed it as a setback for democracy in the EU-hopeful country.
Ankara had to lift the block on April 3 after its highest court ruled the ban breached the right to free speech.
Erdogan again criticised the court verdict on Saturday.
“We abided by the (court) ruling on (Twitter), but I say it again, I don’t respect it,” he said.
Erdogan criticised the top Constitutional Court for “advocating commercial law of international companies instead of defending its own country”.
The ban had been widely circumvented by many of Turkey’s almost 12 million Twitter users, who have instead sent tweets via text message or by adjusting their Internet settings.
Last week, the government said it would keep its block on YouTube in place despite two separate courts ordering it be lifted.
Erdogan, Turkey’s strongman premier for 11 years, ordered the Internet curbs in the lead-up to March 30 municipal election, in which his party chalked up sweeping wins despite the claims of sleaze and graft.