US on Turkey's Twitter ban: More tweets than before

US on Turkey's Twitter ban: More tweets than before

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US on Turkeys Twitter ban: More tweets than before

A Turkish woman looks at her smartphone in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, with the Süleymaniye mosque in the background. AFP photo

The United States on March 24 noted there have been more Turkish tweets since the prime minister controversially banned the micro-blogging service than before.

Turkey's telecommunications authority blocked local access to the U.S. social network late March 21 under orders of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after opposition members used the social network to post telephone recordings implicating him in a major corruption scandal.

The move has attracted ire from the international community, with Washington on March 22 denouncing the blow to "the right to free speech."

But State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf noted March 24 that "there have been more tweets from Turkey since the government blocked [Twitter] than there were before."

"Which is an interesting, I think, signal to people who try to clamp down on freedom of expression: That it doesn't work, and isn't the right thing to do," she said.

"What the world saw was the number of people inside Turkey tweeting about what they thought about it being blocked there," Harf continued, as she also reiterated her government's condemnation of the ban.

The United States "said very clearly to the Turkish government that this is not acceptable and that we do not think they should be able to block their citizens' access to these kind of social media platforms," Harf said.

The spokeswoman noted that the U.S. government was also "in contact with Twitter," but did not say if the United States would go to court to force Turkey to restore access to the service. 

Washington and Ankara have a long-standing military alliance, including through NATO, and the two countries work together closely to support the opposition and the rebellion in Syria.

But relations have chilled in recent months as the United States has increasingly criticized the government's record on respecting civil liberties and human rights under Erdoğan.