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'We'll eradicate Twitter': Turkey blocks Twitter access

Twitter offered workarounds to Turkish users on Thursday following reports by users that the service was facing interruptions and possibly a block in the country.

Earlier, local newspapers reported that the government was considering blocking Twitter’s website as the company had refused to abide by court orders requiring certain content to be deleted.

"We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, The Washington Post reports. "I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic."

Twitter had been ordered by a court in Turkey to remove certain web links after complaints by citizens, but company officials had remained indifferent to the verdicts, despite being approached by officials, the Anadolu Agency quoted Thursday from a government statement.

“Access to Twitter may be blocked as a last resort to avert the unjust treatment of our citizens in case of a continuation of this ignorance of the court rulings,” Anadolu quoted the prime minister’s press center as stating.

Prime Minister Erdogan has been previously quoted as vowing to “wipe out” Twitter following allegations of corruption in his close circle on the social media website. The country’s municipal elections are scheduled for later this month.

Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler did not comment when asked if the service was blocked in the country but pointed to messages by @policy, the feed from Twitter’s global public policy team. In one such message, the company advised Turkish users to send tweets using SMS (short message service) through local mobile carriers like Vodafone, Avea and Turkcell.

The Communication Technologies Institution (BTK), which has been given extraordinary powers under a recently passed Internet law, lists three court rulings and one prosecutor decision on its website as the reason of the outage, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, said in a message that the Twitter ban in Turkey is “groundless, pointless, cowardly.” The Turkish people and international community will see it as censorship, which it is, she added. Erdogan has previously threatened to block Facebook and YouTube in Turkey under the new Internet law, according to reports.

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