Erdoğan’s senior advisor, Yalçın Doğan, has said that a tweet containing lies and slander is much more dangerous than a vehicle loaded with a bomb, although perhaps this view is not shared by the victims of the U.S. Embassy bombing or the victims of the car bombs in Reyhanlı near the Syrian border.
Consequently, the Turkish government is believed to be working on plans to restrict the social media there, and a state department on cyber crime has already started to investigate some 5 million tweets about the Gezi Park protests. CIA News reports that Prime Minister Erdogan has instructed the head of Turkish intelligence [MIT], Hakan Fidan, to activate two secret web tracking centers, code-named “ahtapot” [octopus], that can monitor most IP telecommunication between Turkish ISPs [Internet service providers], and between Turkish ISPs and the outside world.
Already in 2007 the Turkish Security Directorate obtained a blanket court permit to monitor and record all communications in Turkey, including mobile and land-line phones, SMS text messaging, e-mail, fax and Internet communications. In this connection, Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım remarked, “It is not possible to prevent being listened to; the only way is not to talk [on the phone]. If there is nothing illegal in our actions, we should not be concerned about such things.”
Two years ago Former President Süleyman Demirel stated in an interview that the press and judiciary were no longer free in Turkey but stifled by “an empire of fear.” A fortnight ago, however, an academic who took part in a rally in Kuğulu Park in Ankara said, “The circle of fear is broken.”
For this reason, the Turkish government intends to maintain its control. Both Facebook and Twitter have refused to provide user data to the authorities, so Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım has warned that the social media websites refusing to cooperate will receive “an Ottoman slap” from 76 million Turks.
It is still unclear what form this slap will take, but perhaps the Minister will call in the janissaries and have the uncooperative beheaded. Whatever happens, there will be ample room for creativity.Robert Ellis
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