Turkey's government banned the video-sharing website, YouTube, on Thursday, after a video of top security officials discussing possible military action in Syria was leaked on the portal.
An anonymous account on YouTube posted what looked like a recording of Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan discussing potential military operations in Syria with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the deputy chief of military staff Yasar Guler and other senior officials. The Turkish government, which banned the use of microblogging site Twitter after posts suggesting government corruption began going viral, equated posting such videos to “declaring a war." The bans on social media come just before national elections, which are scheduled for March 30.
According to Associated Press, an attempt to access YouTube from within Turkey will now result in a message from the telecommunications authority, stating: "After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the law, an administrative measure has been taken for this website.”
Davutoglu confirmed that the meeting had taken place, according to Reuters, but criticized the move of sharing such conversations online, saying: "A cyber attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation. This is a clear declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation."
The Turkish foreign ministry said that the meeting was held to discuss threats from Syria's civil war, and claimed that parts of the recording were manipulated.
"It is a wretched attack, an act of espionage and a very heavy crime to record and leak to the public a top secret meeting held in a place where the most delicate security issues of the state are discussed," the foreign ministry reportedly said in a statement, according to Reuters.
A Turkish court ordered the government to lift the ban on Twitter on Wednesday, but it might be weeks before it is enforced.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under international scrutiny following his government's decision to ban Twitter and YouTube, but defended the actions as appropriate under the circumstances, and denounced the act of leaking the video as “sleaze" and “shameful.”
"They even leaked a national security meeting," Erdogan said at a campaign rally, according to Reuters, adding: "This is villainous, this is dishonesty ... Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?"