Turkish police fire tear gas to break up Internet protest

ISTANBUL Sat Feb 8, 2014 7:25pm EST

1 of 9. Riot police use water cannons to disperse demonstrators during a protest against internet censorship in Istanbul February 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Police fired water cannon and teargas to disperse hundreds of people protesting in central Istanbul on Saturday against new controls on the Internet approved by parliament this week.

The new powers, once approved by the president, will let authorities block web pages within hours, in what the opposition has said is part of a government bid to stifle discussion of a corruption scandal.

Riot police advanced along Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue behind armored vehicles firing water cannon at protesters, some of whom waved flags and held up placards.

Some demonstrators responded by throwing stones or setting off fireworks aimed at police before scattering into side streets.

"Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption," some chanted, in a variation of an anti-government slogan used by demonstrators in protests across the country last summer.

The government says the Internet reform, sent to parliament before the graft inquiry became public late last year but broadened in recent weeks, is aimed at protecting individual privacy and not gagging its critics.

The corruption scandal erupted on December 17 with the arrest of businessmen close to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and three ministers' sons, and has grown into one of the biggest threats to his 11-year rule.

Since the scandal broke, Erdogan's government has purged hundreds of police, sought tighter control of the courts and fired executives from banking and telecoms regulators and state television.

Erdogan says the scandal is an attempt by a U.S.-based cleric with influence in the police and judiciary to unseat him. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies the allegations.

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Stephen Powell)

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Comments (3)
divinargant wrote:
You must control the internet so the people have limited access to the truth. If all else fails, lie.

Feb 08, 2014 9:28pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SarahGreen wrote:
Governments of the World are conspiring to restrict our internet freedom. We all need to stop this happening!

I use this cheap and very useful method to circumvent censorship.

Feb 09, 2014 2:35am EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
The protesters know they are headed towards a fundamentalist dystopia, and it won’t be limited to just Turkey.
The internet is a sitter for false flag attacks which is probably how it will come down in the west.

Feb 09, 2014 4:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
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