Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp blocked in Turkey after arrest of opposition leaders

Social media sites reportedly 'blocked by throttling' following arrests of Kurdish-backed politicians

May Bulman
Friday 04 November 2016 09:53 GMT
Internet restrictions are increasingly being used by President Erdogan to suppress media coverage of political incidents
Internet restrictions are increasingly being used by President Erdogan to suppress media coverage of political incidents

Access to social media and sharing websites has been blocked in Turkey following the arrests of 11 Kurdish-backed politicians, according to an internet monitoring group.

At around 1am local time on Friday monitoring network Turkey Blocks, which provides a live feed of internet shutdown incidents in the country, confirmed that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were all “blocked by throttling”, a method of slowing certain websites to the point where they are unusable.

Minutes later another tweet was posted stating that Whatsapp had also been blocked – the first time the popular messaging app has seen nationwide restrictions in recent years.

The block was still in place by mid-morning, with Turkey Blocks describing it as a “developing incident”.

It was first detected on national provider TTNet, Turkcell and then on other major internet service providers, with users of other smaller providers reportedly not yet affected at the time of writing.

The incident was believed to be related to the detention of the two co-leaders of a Kurdish-backed opposition party, People's Democracy (HDP), as well as at least nine MPs, as part of what the government said was a counter-terrorism inquiry.

Internet restrictions are increasingly being used in Turkey to suppress media coverage of political incidents, a form of censorship deployed at short notice to prevent civil unrest.

Earlier this week the internet was completely shut down in Turkey’s southeast, affecting some six million people and reportedly preventing the supply of medical supplies to patients and crippling the region's infrastructure.

Turkey remains under a state of emergency that was imposed after a failed coup in July, which allows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

In October the Turkish government announced it would soon submit proposals to parliament for constitutional changes that would make Mr Erdogan "executive president", expanding his powers further.

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