“Twitter, schmitter!” Erdogan said at a campaign rally Thursday. “We will wipe out all of these…The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”
On Friday, the U.S. State Department condemned the government’s decision to block access to the service. “An independent and unfettered media is an essential element of democratic, open societies,” spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Today’s shutdown of Twitter is contrary to Turkey’s own expressed desire to uphold the highest standards of democracy.”
Erdogan’s crackdown on Twitter was likely precipitated by recent leaks of recordings that allegedly show corruption at the highest ranks of his government. One of those wiretapped conversations purports to be a discussion between Erdogan and his son about how to hide large sums of money. Another allegedly shows the prime minister browbeating an editor for not firing a critical columnist. These wiretaps appear to have been released as part of Erdogan’s feud with Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are thought to include many top officials within the country’s police force. Erdogan has denied the authenticity of the most damaging leaks and hasn’t commented on others.