Turkey's embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "eradicate twitter" on Thursday, claiming he could ban the social network in Turkey just two weeks after threatening to shut down Facebook and YouTube "if necessary."
"We now have a court order," Erdogan said. "We'll eradicate Twitter. I don't care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic."
Twitter declined a BuzzFeed request for comment on Erdogan's remarks.
Erdogan made the comments during a campaign stop in the western city of Bursa. Turkey is to hold local elections on March 30, which will be a test for Erdogan's AKP party. In recent weeks, Erdogan and members of his government have come under fire for severe corruption allegations. Most recently, on Feb. 25, Erdogan accused a "robot lobby" on Twitter of targeting the government, after phone recordings allegedly incriminating him in corruption were leaked onto the internet.
Twitter has been a key tool for organizing and publicizing the waves of anti-government protests that begun in May 2013. Erdogan has repeatedly criticized and threatened journalists and social media users. Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 154th out of 180 countries in its 2014 ranking of press freedoms.
Twitter has provided users in Turkey with a work-around via SMS messaging:
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Michael Rusch is a socials editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Rusch was selected by Time as having one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.
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