Turkish Court Overturns Twitter Ban

Ankara court orders lifting of ban on social media site; telecommunication authority has 30 days to comply.

Ari Yashar ,

Twitter (illustration)
Twitter (illustration)

A Turkish court has ordered the suspension of the nation-wide ban on social media site Twitter, which was put in place by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Friday.

While the court ordered Turkey's telecommunication authority TIB to reinstate the site, TIB has 30 days to decide whether or not to comply, leaving Turks Twitter-less for the time being, reports BBC.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stated that TIB would follow the court decision to lift the ban, reports Al Jazeera. However, he did not address the 30-day time period.

The ban was reportedly imposed over several Turkish legal orders to block accounts that posted voice recordings and documents purportedly showing evidence of corruption among Erdogan's inner circle.

Twitter itself filed a challenge to the ban on Wednesday, saying it had cooperated by closing two out of the three accounts Turkey ordered closed, but refused to close a third given that it accused a former minister of corruption.

"Turkey is breaching human rights"

"This order causes us concern," said Twitter general counsel Vijaya Gadde. "Political speech is among the most important speech, especially when it concerns possible government corruption."

Gadde added to the condemnation of the ban, noting "the millions of people in Turkey who turn to Twitter to make their voices heard are being kept from doing just that. There are no legal grounds for the blocking of our service in Turkey."

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated "we are concerned that the blocking of access to Twitter... may be incompatible with Turkey's international human rights obligations."

"The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online. So we would urge the authorities to rescind the blocking of Twitter," Colville noted.

Nevertheless, Erdogan defended the ban on Sunday, saying "I cannot understand how sensible people still defend Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. They run all kinds of lies." He added the three websites "have to respect the Turkish republic's laws."