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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's prime minister has threatened drastic steps to censor the Internet, including shutting down Facebook and YouTube, where audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting corruption have been leaked in the past weeks, dealing him a major blow ahead of this month's local elections.
In a late-night interview Thursday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told ATV station that his government is determined to stem the leaks he insists are being instigated by followers of an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric. He has accused supporters of Fethullah Gulen of infiltrating police and the judiciary and of engaging in "espionage," saying that the group even listened in on his encrypted telephone lines. The Gulen movement denies involvement.
"We are determined on the issue, regardless of what the world may say," Erdogan said. "We won't allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others. Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering."
Asked if the steps could include shutting those sites down, Erdogan replied: "That included. Because these people or institutions are (using social media) for all kinds of immorality, all kinds of espionage and spying."
Erdogan this week acknowledged some of the leaked recordings, including two where he is heard meddling in a court case against a media proprietor and in a tender for the construction of warships. He has rejected as "fabrication" five recordings purported to be of Erdogan instructing his son to dispose of large amounts of money on the day that prosecutors and police carried out raids on the homes of three former ministers' sons as part of a corruption and bribery investigation.
Erdogan, claiming to be a victim of a Gulen-orchestrated plot, has taken a series of steps to stall the corruption investigation, including removing hundreds of police officers and prosecutors and expanding government controls over the judiciary and the Internet. The new Internet restrictions sparked violent protests in Istanbul.
A suspect is now in custody in connection with threats made Thursday caused officials to place two Granite City schools on lock down.
Police say around 3:24 p.m. they received information that a suspect had made a specific threat to the Coolidge Middle School. Officers met with school officials and placed the school on a lockdown. Granite City High School was also placed on lockdown as a precaution.
Once investigators determined that the call wasn't in the vicinity of the schools, the lockdowns were lifted and students were allowed to go home.
Assistant Granite City Police Chief Major Jeff Connor says a 55 year old man was tracked to a local bar where he was arrested without incident.
The case will be presented to the Madison County States Attorney Friday for possible charges.
CAHOKIA, Ill. (AP) - A group is closing out its public comment period on a push to get an ancient metro-east historical site designated as a national park.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports the Heartlands Conservancy will hold its last public hearing on March 19 at the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center.
Those behind the push believe that by seeking national recognition, Cahokia Mounds could bring additional regional tourism, jobs and money. The conservancy has been working for more than a year with Native American tribes, government agencies and nonprofits on a feasibility study.
Cahokia is believed to have been inhabited from 700 to 1400 A.D., and it was among the most complex societies of prehistoric North America. The 2,200-acre property is designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.