Turkish court tells government: Restore Twitter access

Protesters in Ankara hold "Do not touch my Twitter" placards during a demonstration last month against Turkey's Twitter ban.

Story highlights

  • Turkish court rules country's ban on Twitter violates right to free expression
  • Lower court overturned ban last week, but government has yet to restore service
  • Prime Minister has blamed social media for fueling anti-government rhetoric
  • Wednesday's ruling did not address a YouTube ban that came after one on Twitter

A Turkish court ruled Wednesday that the country's ban on Twitter violates the right to free expression and demanded that citizens' access to the popular microblogging service be restored.

Three people filed complaints to the Constitutional Court after the Telecommunications Directorate blocked access to the social media website Twitter.

The court sent its decision to the Telecommunications Directorate and the Transportation, Maritime and Communication Ministry, asking that necessary measures to restore the service be taken.

Speaking to the daily newspaper Hurriyet, Metin Feyzioglu, president of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, said, "If they don't abide by the ruling, we will file a criminal complaint against the (Telecommunications Directorate) by attaching the ruling of the Constitutional Court."

A lower court overturned the Twitter ban last week, but access to the service has not been restored.

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Blaming social media for fueling anti-government rhetoric, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "eradicate" Twitter at a campaign rally in Bursa on March 20.

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Within hours, Turkish Internet users were reporting widespread disruptions to Twitter.

Outrage ensued as the hashtags #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and #DictatorErdogan began trending worldwide.

Freedom of expression campaign group Index on Censorship said the ban, which it called "censorship of which the worst authoritarian regimes would be proud" was "emblematic of the increasingly authoritarian tendencies" of Erdogan.

Wednesday's court ruling did not address a YouTube ban that took place less than a week after Twitter was blocked.