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Turkey restricts internet, bans Twitter and YouTube




ANKARA: Turkey on Friday restricted access to social media websites after the Islamic State group released a video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers being burned alive, a monitoring organisation said.

The video, which shows the killing of two soldiers captured while fighting the militants in or around the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, was released late Thursday night.

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“The 19-minute footage was purportedly shot in the IS-declared “Aleppo Province” in northern Syria. Speaking in Turkish, the killer of the two men verbally attacks Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for “destruction to be sowed” in Turkey,” said a Turkish military official.

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The video’s release came a day after 16 Turkish soldiers were killed by IS fighters, in Ankara’s biggest loss so far in its unprecedented incursion into Syria.

Soon after its release on social media, authorities ordered to block the video and image sharing websites including Twitter and YouTube.

Turkey frequently restricts access to social media websites to prevent the spread of graphic images and other material authorities say would harm public order or security.




 

Crime

Christian man in Lahore sentenced to death for sending blasphemous WhatsApp text

LAHORE: A Christian man living here has been sentenced to death for insulting Islam in his poem, a lawyer said Friday.

Nadeem James wrote a poem that insulted Islam and sent it to his Muslim friends on WhatsApp. One of his friends, Yasir Bashir complained to the police against James.

Taking action, Lahore police arrested the man and produced him before the court. He was charged in July last year.

“James was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel said.

“My client will appeal the sentence in the high court as he has been framed by his friend who was annoyed over James’ affair with a Muslim girl,” Wakeel said.

He said the trial was held inside a prison due to security reasons after local Muslim clerics had threatened James and his family. Court officials confirmed the sentence.

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Technology

Saudi IT ministry decides to unblock WhatsApp, Viber and Skype

RIYADH: Online video calling apps, including WhatsApp, Skype and Viber, will be unblocked in Saudi Arabia from next week, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawahah announced today.

“Negotiations with telecommunication service providers and related bodies are underway to enable customers to use the apps to make voice and video calls of the “highest quality”,” Al-Sawahah said in an interview.

“However, the usage of the apps will be heavily monitored by the government bodies and service providers,” he added.

The minister further went on to add that telecom companies will also be required to provide quarterly index of complaints filed by subscribers in order to ensure transparency.

The kingdom imposed a ban on the video-calling apps in 2013, after the government claimed that they “do not meet the regulatory conditions”.

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Technology

Peggy Whitson returns to Earth after spending record 665 days in space!

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson has returned to Earth today after spending  a record-breaking 665 days in space on board International Space Station.

Peggy and her two crew-mates made a safe parachute landing in Kazakhstan at 2.30am.

This feat has distinguished her as the only woman ever to have spent this much time in space.

Moreover, at 57 she is the world’s oldest spacewoman and the only female space-walker with ten outings. 

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