ISTANBUL  - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to ban Facebook and YouTube in Turkey in an attempt to stop political foes anonymously posting audio recordings purportedly exposing corruption and other malpractices in his inner circle.

In the latest recording, released on YouTube late Thursday, Erdogan is purportedly heard berating a newspaper owner over the telephone about an article and suggesting the journalists be sacked, in comments that will further stoke concerns over media freedom and Erdogan's authoritarian style of leadership.

Turkey's president on Friday ruled out a ban on Facebook and YouTube after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoganthreatened such a move to stop political foes posting audio recordings purportedly exposing government corruption.

"The closure of them is out of the question," Abdullah Gul told reporters when asked about Erdogan's comments, adding that under a recently passed law authorities could block access to material on such sites if a person's privacy is violated.

Erdogan, who rejects any accusations of corruption, blames US-based Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, for the wiretaps which he says have been "fabricated". Gulen, who denies any involvement, has many followers in Turkey, especially in the police and judiciary. "We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook," Erdogan said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster ATV aired late on Thursday.

"We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way," he said, adding that these would come after municipal elections in Turkey set for March 30. sked if a ban on these sites could be included among the planned measures, he said: "Included, because these people or institutions encourage every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends." There was no immediate reaction from Facebook or YouTube. Turkey banned YouTube for more than two years until 2010 after users posted videos the govt deemed insulting to the republic's founder,Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Turkey's communications minister appeared to defend the putative bans. "We see insults against a country's prime minister and president, the uploading of illegal videos - and we're supposed to be at ease with this? ... Whatever is a crime in the real world is also a crime in the virtual world," the Dogan news agency quoted Lutfu Elvan as saying on Friday.

Meanwhile, a Turkish court ordered the release of former army chief Ilker Basbug from a life sentence on Friday, Turkish media said, adding to uncertainty over the fate of court cases trying coup plots against PM Tayyip Erdogan.

The decision followed a constitutional court ruling on Thursday that Basbug's incarceration for his alleged role in the 'Ergenekon' conspiracy violated his rights as the court trying him had failed to publish a detailed verdict on the case.