Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, blames political enemies for abusing social network sites by uploading streams of what he argues are lies.
Erdoğan says Facebook and YouTube could be banned after local elections in March following leaked tapes of an alleged phone call between him and his son going viral. The incident prompted calls for his resignation.
Erdoğan, leader of a government that has presided over strong economic growth, believes that political enemies are trying to discredit both him and his party – by using the web to do it.
When asked if the possible barring of these sites was included in planned measures, he replied: “Included.”
Erdoğan says that social media sites have been abused by his political enemies, in particular by his former ally, US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.
The Prime Minister sees Gülen as the force behind a stream of “fabricated” audio recordings posted on the internet, allegedly revealing corruption in his inner circle.
In an interview with the Turkish broadcaster ATV, Erdoğan said: “We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook.”
“We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way.”
Gülen has denied any involvement in the recordings and rejects claims that he is using a network of associates in an attempt to gain influence in Turkish politics.
This week saw five more recordings appear on YouTube, with Erdoğan describing the uploads as a campaign to damage his ruling centre-right AK Party.
In a recording released on YouTube late on Thursday, Erdoğan is supposedly heard saying that the Milliyet newspaper owner should fire two journalists responsible for a front-page story about Kurdish peace talk efforts.
The timing couldn´t be worse with the 30 March municipal elections coming closer and a presidential poll due later this year.
The PM has even indicated that a criminal investigation could be launched against Gülen’s Hizmet movement.
Questioned on Thursday night as to whether Turkey could seek to obtain an Interpol red notice for the extradition of Gülen from the USA, Erdoğan said: “Why not?”