In what may be another first for our connected world, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan placed what appeared to be a Facetime call to a national news broadcast early on Saturday while the world tried to figure out if a military coup against him had succeeded.
Erdogan appeared on a journalist’s iPhone, held up to the camera so viewers could see and hear what he had to say. He claimed that he remained in control and urged the public to take to the streets to oppose the coup attempt.
Erdogan’s use of modern technology to speak to the nation comes with a heap of irony. He has been keen to shut off access to the Internet during sensitive times and go after those who try to get around such bans and those who insult him. Reporters Without Borders says Erdogan has “systematically” censored the Internet.
The broadcast was aired on CNN Turk, one of a number of independent news channels serving the country. As it was being shown, the state-run station TRT was repeatedly broadcasting a statement from the military announcing it had seized control of the country.
Later in the evening Abdullah Gül, who served as the country’s president from 2007 to 2014, made a video call into another broadcaster, NTV.
As with Erdogan, a reporter held the phone up to the screen and used a small microphone to relay what Gül was saying to the live broadcast.
What’s actually happening in Turkey remains unclear at this point, but tanks are out on some streets and flights from Istanbul’s international airport have been halted.
The U.S. State Department has confirmed gunfire in the capital and asked citizens to stay indoors.
US citizens in #Turkey should shelter in place & stay indoors. Update family/friends of your status when possible.
Access to Twitter and Facebook was quickly cut soon after the first reports of an attempted coup began emerging from the country. Doug Madory, an analyst at Dyn Research in the U.S., said it appeared Turkish telecommunications authorities were blocking access to the sites.
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.