A two-week-old Twitter ban has been lifted by the Turkish government. The Twitter ban was lifted after the country’s constitutional court ruled the country-wide ban of the popular social media site violated individuals’ freedom of expression. The social networking site was shut down on March 21, in the days leading up to important local elections. A series of leaked wiretapped phone conversations implicated the Prime Minister and his advisors in several corruption scandals prompted the Turkish government to initiate the Turkey Twitter ban. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, vowed to “eradicate” Twitter. So far his attempts have failed.
Just last week Erdogan’s government stepped up their internet crackdown by banning access to YouTube just days before the elections, as the BBC reports, “after a video on the website appeared to reveal top officials discussing how to stage an undercover attack inside Syria.”
Following a court order issued by the Turkish constitutional court on Wednesday, the government of Turkey reluctantly lifted the Twitter ban late Thursday night.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticized a constitutional court ruling lifting a ban on Twitter, saying the court should have rejected an application to restore access to the micro-blogging site.”
“We complied with the ruling but I do not respect it,” Erdogan told reporters at a news conference before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan. “It should have been rejected on procedural grounds.”
The Turkey Twitter ban was controversial even within Erdogan’s own government. According to NPR, “President Abdullah Gul, like many other users, employed a text-to-tweet application that circumvented the ban.” Gul tweeted, “One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms.”
In its ruling, the court called the Turkey Twitter ban “illegal, arbitrary and a serious restriction on the right to obtain information.”
Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor at Bilgi University, told the New York Times, “This is a major victory for democracy and freedom of expression in Turkey. We didn’t expect this today.” Akdeniz was responsible for legally challenging the Turkey Twitter ban.
The hashtag #TekrarHoşgeldinTwitter, which translates to “Welcome back Twitter” in English, has been used more than 40,000 times already, as Turks return to the network to discuss the news about the Turkey Twitter ban. BBC News reports, “It may be some hours before normal service is resumed. More than 80% of tweets using the hashtag were posted from within Turkey, implying either that people are flouting the block – as they have done in droves since it was implemented – or that service is getting back to normal.”