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Europe

Turkey lifts Twitter ban

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-04

Turkey ended its two-week-old ban on Twitter on Thursday, a day after the country’s Constitutional Court demanded an end to the blocking of the site, an official in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said.

Turkey blocked access to Twitter on March 21, after users posted comments relating to alleged government corruption.

Shortly after, the government also blocked access to YouTube following the leak of an audio recording of a secret government security meeting.

The bans came in the run-up to local elections on March 30, which saw Erdogan’s ruling party score a decisive victory.

On Wednesday, however, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the blocking of Twitter breached rights to freedom of expression and demanded that telecoms regulator TİB restore access to the micro-blogging site as soon as possible.

But it took until Thursday for TIB to remove court orders blocking the site from its webpage.

“The ban has been lifted,” the official from Erdogan’s office told Reuters by telephone.

Authoritarian measures

Minutes after the ban was overturned, the micro-blogging site was flooded with messages, with one user saying “Welcome back to Twitter, Turkey”.

Other users inside the country, however, complained that they were still unable to access the site.

The lifting of the ban means that the TIB will instruct Turkey’s internet providers to unblock access to the site, a process likely to take several hours.

Access to YouTube still remained blocked in the country, with legal challenges against the ban on the video sharing site still pending.

Erdogan’s critics saw the social media bans as the latest in a series of authoritarian measures to crush a corruption scandal that had grown into one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.

Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, with Internet analysts reporting a surge in tweets since the ban was imposed, but the issue has become a tug-of-war between Erdogan’s administration and the micro-blogging site.

The social media bans sparked international criticism of Turkey – a country that is a candidate to join the European Union  –   with EU commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, calling the move "groundless, pointless [and] cowardly".

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-03

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