Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Social networking company’s refusal follows a two-week ban on the service

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Social networking company’s refusal follows a two-week ban on the service

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

Speaking after two days of closed-door talks with Turkish officials, Colin Crowell, Twitter’s head of global public policy, told AFP: “We did not agree on opening an office in Turkey.”

“Making greater investments here to grow our business has a relationship to whether or not we can count on the continuity of our service,” he said.

“And an investment climate in which our service has been shut off would give any company reservations about making an imminent investment,” Crowell said in an interview in Istanbul.

The Twitter delegation was in Turkey to ease tensions after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the firm of tax evasion and blocked it.

“Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are international companies established for profit and making money,” Erdogan said on Sunday. “Twitter is at the same time a tax evader. We will go after it.”

Turkey had criticized Twitter for not opening a physical office in the country and paying domestic taxes.

But Twitter has rejected charges of tax evasion, saying the company already has a reseller in Turkey which pays the applicable taxes.

“That relationship is similar to many companies which do business here,” Crowell said.

The spat between the powerful social networking tool and Turkey reached its height when Erdogan attempted to block the service after it was used to spread audio recordings implicating the prime minister in corruption.

The much-criticized ban was lifted on April 3 after the country's top court ruled the blockade breached the right to free speech.

The government estimates that Twitter generates $35 million (25 million euros) a year in advertising revenue in Turkey.

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