Turkey’s combative prime minister warned on Thursday that he would eradicate Twitter after a number of audio recordings anonymously posted on social media purportedly exposed corruption in his inner circle.
“We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an election rally in the western province of Bursa.
“They will see the Turkish republic’s strength,” he added.
Early this month, Erdogan warned that his government could ban popular social media networks Youtube and Facebook after the crucial March 30 local election, triggering U.S. concern.
Erdogan, Turkey’s all-powerful leader since 2003, has been under mounting pressure after audio recordings allegedly show his involvement in corruption, and others portraying him interfering in business deals, court cases and media coverage.
He dismissed most of the recordings as “vile” fakes concocted by his rivals.
Erdogan’s government has been rocked by a vast corruption probe launched in December which saw dozens of people rounded up including the premier’s close business and political allies.
The Turkish strongman has accused associates of a former staunch ally — U.S.-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen — of being behind the graft probe that claimed the scalps of four ministers.
Gulen however has denied any involvement.
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 corruption allegations flooding social media and video sharing sites.