By Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's president on Friday ruled out any ban on Facebook and YouTube after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the sites could be shut to stop his foes anonymously posting audio recordings purportedly exposing corruption in his inner circle. In the latest recording, released on YouTube late on Thursday, Erdogan is purportedly heard berating a newspaper owner over the telephone about an article and suggesting the journalists be sacked, in comments that will further stoke concerns over media freedom and Erdogan's authoritarian style of leadership. Erdogan, who rejects any accusations of corruption, blames U.S.-based Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, for the wiretaps which he says have been "fabricated". Gulen, who denies any involvement, has many followers in Turkey, especially in the police and judiciary. President Abdullah Gul, a co-founder of Erdogan's ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party, said freedom of expression was an important value buttressed by the government's own reforms. "Closure (of the social media sites) is out of the question," Gul said when asked about Erdogan's threat, adding that under a recent law authorities could block access to material on the sites if a person's privacy were violated. "We are always proud of the reforms we have made regarding the broadening of freedoms," said Gul, who has come under fire from liberal-minded Turks over the past year for not contesting some government measures they see as curtailing basic freedoms. As president, Gul can veto laws once and send them back to parliament for further work. In a TV interview on Thursday, Erdogan raised the option of a ban on YouTube and Facebook after March 30 local elections, saying: "We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way ... because these people (Gulen's followers) ... encourage every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends." Erdogan, Turkey's most popular politician, says the postings are part of a campaign to discredit him and his government, which has presided over more than a decade of strong economic growth and rising living standards. "MONTAGE" He says fragments of tapped conversations have been fitted together in a 'montage' giving a false and misleading impression of their content - a claim he repeated at a packed election rally on Friday in the western city of Eskisehir. There was no immediate reaction from Facebook or YouTube to Erdogan's threat. Turkey ranks among the top 15 countries among Facebook's nearly 1 billion users, with some 34 million active users on a monthly basis in a population of 77 million. Turkey banned YouTube for more than two years until 2010 after users posted videos the government deemed insulting to the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Turkey recently tightened government control of the Internet saying it wanted to defend privacy. Erdogan's critics said the new law was a further bid to hush up allegations of high-level corruption flooding social media and video sharing sites. Five more recordings have appeared on YouTube this week, part of what Erdogan sees as a systematic campaign orchestrated by Gulen's followers to sully his AK Party before the local elections and a presidential poll due later this year. Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the recordings. In Thursday's audio posting, Erdogan is portrayed taking to task businessman Erdogan Demiroren after his newspaper Milliyet published on its front page about a year ago an article on the sensitive issue of peace talks with Turkey's Kurdish rebels. "Would you keep someone who would do something dishonorable in your office...?" the voice presented by the anonymous poster as that of the prime minister asks. "No, we wouldn't," replies Demiroren, who later in the conversation bursts into tears, apparently upset at coming under pressure from the prime minister to sack two of his journalists. The AK Party, which remains far ahead of its rivals in opinion polls despite the corruption scandal, denies exerting undue influence over the media, but journalists, rights groups and the European Union - which Turkey aspires to join - have long accused the government of curtailing press freedoms. In another recording this week, Erdogan purportedly urges his then-justice minister to speed up a court case against a media magnate who belongs to a secular elite which has often had tense relations with the government. A Turkish official told Reuters that data and logs related to digital recordings from before 2012 had been deleted in the database of Turkey's state telecommunications authority TIB. It was not clear what had happened to the recordings but pro-government media reports said they had been copied and deleted by Gulen's followers. (Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay and Umit Bektas in Turkey and by Eric Auchard in Vienna; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
Trump baselessly bashed Obama for transferring records from the White House to Chicago. Here's why Obama was allowed while Trump is under scrutiny by the FBI.
As his time in the White House came to a close, Barack Obama transferred records from the White House for his presidential library in Chicago.
Trump has until Friday afternoon to decide to whether to fight the release of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. His team is considering challenging the motion, per reports.
Former President Donald Trump could himself unilaterally release the search warrant and receipt of goods taken by the FBI. But it might not help him.
Fox News host calls out GOP for attacking the FBI after raid on Trump's home: 'Whatever happened to the Republican party backing the blue?'
For years, the GOP has portrayed itself as the "law and order" party. But it's singing a very different tune following the FBI raid at Trump's home.
Did he really mean to say this out loud?
- Business Insider
The FBI was tipped off by an informer close to Trump who guided agents to where documents were kept, reports say
Officials told Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal that this person told investigators about the documents.
- The Daily Beast
LEXEY DANICHEV/Sputnik Host Photo Agency/AFP via Getty ImagesLatvia’s parliament has moved to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine—and the Kremlin does not appear to be taking it well. Russia is committing a “genocide against the Ukrainian people,” Latvian MPs said in a statement Thursday, according to AFP. Russia “uses suffering and intimidation as tools in its attempts to weaken the morale of the Ukrainian people and armed forc
The scientific theory of why some Americans don't want Brittney Griner to come home from a Russian prison
Plenty of Americans don't support the US government's efforts to bring Brittney Griner home. An expert in hostage taking and recovery explains why.
- The Daily Beast
Fox NewsFox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy flipped the script on Thursday morning, pushing back on House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s wild suggestion that FBI agents went “rogue” in executing a court-approved search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s residence.Doocy further took issue with the immediate “rush to judgment” made by Scalise and other conservatives, asking if they could at least “wait a week” before determining that the FBI is “crazy.”Fox News has engaged in a full-scale mel
Footage of Japanese kickboxer Rukiya “Demolition Man” Anpo recently went viral for showing him beating up uninvited fighters who interrupted a training session – or did they really? A video of the fight shows a group of "street fighters" seemingly barging into the gym where Anpo, 26, and fellow Japanese kickboxer Kosei Yamada, 29, were training. Several social media posts claimed that the "street fighters" challenged them to a fight.
Ryan Reynolds spent nearly $3 million before consulting his wife Blake Lively: ‘We’re still working through that one’
Financial planners share how much spouses should be able to comfortably spend from joint income.
Two decades after their extraordinary separation surgery, Josie Hull and Teresa Cajas are leading lives that few imagined possible
- AZCentral | The Arizona Republic
How CNN, Fox News and MSNBC covered Merrick Garland's brief TV speech about the Donald Trump search warrant. Kaitlan Collins and Lara Trump react.
- Charlotte Observer
Mega Millions players in North Carolina should check their tickets: Many won prizes but not the $1.33 billion jackpot.
CNN's Pamela Brown quizzed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) on his past outrage over Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information.
Michael Cohen says Trump likely feels 'trapped' after the FBI's raid and is worried that whoever tipped off the feds has more dirt on him
"When the feds raid, usually what comes after that is an indictment and incarceration, and nobody knows that better than I," Cohen said.
After Trump declined to answer questions Wednesday, legal experts said the former president’s decision could create an impression among some that he has something to hide.
- Business Insider
Michael Cohen says he 'would not be surprised' if FBI informant was one of Trump's kids or Jared Kushner
"It's definitely a member of his inner circle," Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, told Insider on Thursday.
While the summer is starting to wind down, Alessandra Ambrosio is turning up the heat to almost scorching in her latest Instagram post. She’s reminding all of her followers to enjoy those last few lazy days of the sun, the beach, and those relaxing days off. Wearing a tiny, shimmering white bikini paired with animal-print […]
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Readers respond to the ongoing investigation of former President Trump.
- Ukrayinska Pravda
OLENA ROSHCHINA - THURSDAY, 11 AUGUST 2022, 16:51 The Russian Federation has lost two squadrons of the latest Su-35 fighters in Ukraine, that's about 24 aircraft, and now tolerates the return of the old Su-24M bombers.