Turkey labels video leak on YouTube a pre-election 'plot'

Turkey labels video leak on YouTube a pre-election 'plot'

ANKARA - Turkey vowed action on Friday against the source of a bugged recording of a security meeting on Syria leaked on YouTube, labelling it a conspiratorial "plot" ahead of key local elections.

"Such a cyber attack in a meeting in which military and security options are being discussed is no different than a military attack," charged Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as prosecutors launched a probe into the eaves-dropping.

"We will take action against those who want to throw Turkey into chaos with political plotting," said Mr Davutoglu, one of the purported figures heard in the recording of the high-level meeting.

The social media release of the audio file was the latest targeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government after a spate of other leaked recordings indicated a vast corruption scandal.

The Erdogan government, which last week shut down Twitter, ordered a block on YouTube on Thursday over the latest release, sparking more criticism from foreign capitals and human rights groups.

In the latest audio file, purportedly of high-level government, military and intelligence officials, participants are heard discussing plans to establish a cause for military strikes in neighbouring Syria.

The government did not deny the meeting took place but said some content had been manipulated.

Mr Davutoglu said that "these revelations have only benefited the regime" in Syria.

Officials have searched the site of the talks, the foreign ministry building in Ankara, for listening devices, said Mr Davutoglu.

"There is a clear attack against national security," he said in a national TV interview, adding that YouTube was shut down after it had refused a government request to take down the account in question.

"This is not freedom of thought. This is a security threat. A state is entitled to take measures," he added.

The local elections on Sunday are seen as a bellwether of the popularity of Mr Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey for 11 years, ahead of Turkey's first direct presidential election in August and parliamentary polls scheduled for next year.

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