Turkish officials closed a backdoor method of reaching Twitter Saturday and defended its decision to block the social media service, saying Twitter had allowed users to perform “systematic character assassinations” of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his administration.
On Saturday, the prime minister’s office released a statement saying that “Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Reuters reported. Opponents of Erdogan have used Twitter in recent weeks to spread audio recordings that allege widespread corruption in his administration as the county prepares for local elections.
Turkish authorities blocked Twitter earlier this week and said it would keep the ban in place until local elections were held at the end of March.
One Turkish paper reported Saturday that government officials had also shut down access to some DNS numbers which had been used by Twitter users to send messages.
Protestors began using a work-around to get on Twitter after the government blocked access on Thursday by disguising their location by using different Domain Name System numbers. But access to Google’s public DNS service in Turkey was reportedly cut off Saturday.
“Many Turkish Twitter users had recently started to type 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168, the DNS addresses belonged to Google, into their network settings, hence easily bypassing the blocking ordered by the Turkish authorities,” the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Google’s press office did not immediately respond for comment about Turkey’s latest actions.
Twitter’s legal team has been working with the Turkish government in an effort to restore its service there, the company said Friday.
Turkey’s actions have drawn widespread condemnation from the global Internet community.
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State (and future presidential candidate?) Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the protestors Saturday.
On Friday, the White House denounced the Turkish government’s actions, saying the U.S. is “deeply concerned” and opposes “this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance.”
The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that the Turkish government has also asked YouTube to take down user videos alleging government corruption. Executives at Google, YouTube’s parent company, determined the government’s requests weren’t legally valid and refused, the paper said.