Turkey Blocks Social Media Over Hostage Photo

Posted April 6th, 2015 at 2:05 pm (UTC+0)
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Turkey on Monday blocked access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over the publication of an image of a Turkish prosecutor who was taken hostage and killed last week by leftist militants.

The ban on Facebook was lifted after the social media giant removed the photo. Twitter reportedly also complied with the demand to remove the image and related Twitter accounts and was expected to be unblocked as well.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a Facebook spokesman saying that the company had received a “valid court order” in Turkey to “restrict access to certain content or our service would be blocked.”

The spokesman said that while it complied with the order, Facebook is appealing it.

According to the daily Hürriyet newspaper, prosecutors ordered that authorities block dozens of other websites that ran a photo of a militant holding a gun to the head of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, the senior prosecutor in a controversial case of the killing of a fifteen-year old during June 2013 protests at Gezi Park.

Two militants with alleged links to the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C) took Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on March 31.

Kiraz suffered five gunshot wounds and died in hospital after the eight-hour hostage drama, during which security forces killed the two captors.

The government banned thirteen media organizations and journalists from covering a subsequent press conference and Kiraz’s funeral. Authorities also launched a criminal investigation into seven Turkish newspapers for publishing the hostage photos.

Prime Minister Davutoğlu said that publishing the photos was immoral and accused newspapers of being “tools of terrorist propaganda.”

Hürriyet, one of the targets of the ban and criminal investigation, rejected the accusations in an April 3 editorial.

“We just want to do journalism. We do not want to face bans with policemen waiting on street corners, trying to prevent our colleagues from doing their work,” the daily paper said.


Cecily Hilleary
Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for an English-language network in the UAE. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA a keen understanding of global social, cultural and political issues.

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