“Welcome back to Twitter, Turkey.” That was one of the tweets of netizens who rejoiced the lifting of the ban on the microblogging site in Turkey. Today (April 3), the Turkish telecoms authority officially ended the two-week-old outage of the website in the country.
In the past days, the Turkish government seemed firm on its stance to keep the ban. So what led to this development? Apparently, the constitutional court does not hold the same opinion as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. A ruling was handed yesterday describing the ban as a breach of freedom of expression.
It was on March 21 when the Turkish telecoms authority blocked access to Twitter in its territories. That came when the website rejected an order from the government to pull out tweets containing links to streams of leaked wiretapped recordings of some senior officials, serving as proof to a corruption scandal.
Political analysts thought the Twitter ban was a form of the Erdogan administration to make sure his Islamist-rooted AK Party would still rule the municipal elections that took place last Sunday. Logically, the party remained victorious, which could be seen as a referendum to Erdogan’s rule.
Court orders lifting of ban
The constitutional court ruling was published in Turkey’s Official Gazette this morning. It put pressure on telecoms authorities in the country to finally lift the ban. Apparently, the court also understood why the blockage of the online site was subject to widespread international condemnation.
The lifting of the two-week-old ban means that the telecoms authority would instruct all Internet service providers in the country to unblock access to twitter. It is a process that is expected to take a few hours. That is why as of press time, some Twitter users in the country could still not access the website.
YouTube still blocked in Turkey
However, this latest court decision does not cover the blockage of YouTube in the country. Google’s video-sharing site was banned in Turkey a week after the blocking of Twitter. To date, legal challenges that keep YouTube a prohibited site are still pending.
Turkish president Abdullah Gul, who has since opposed the bans on both sites, said both Twitter and YouTube should be made accessible in the country soon. His statement followed the court decision. As expected, Twitter posted a tweet that welcomed the court ruling. The US State Department also welcomes this decision.