Turkey Government Restores Twitter Access After Court Ruling

Apr 03, 2014 3:53 pm ET

(Updates with statement by regulator in second, last paragraphs.)

April 3 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s government removed a ban on Twitter access under orders from the country’s top court, two weeks after it blocked the microblogging website to stop alleged leaks from a graft probe.

Turkey’s Information Technology and Communications Board said in an e-mailed statement that it lifted the curbs in order to comply with yesterday’s Constitutional Court ruling, which said it was a violation of freedom of expression. Twitter was accessible in Turkey as of 7 p.m. local time.

Erdogan’s government slapped bans on Twitter and YouTube before the March 30 local elections after a deluge of recordings, some purportedly from police wiretaps as part of a corruption probe, flooded the Internet. The recordings, whose authenticity couldn’t be verified, called into question everything from the financial probity of ministers and their families to their religious piety.

Erdogan’s party won the election as supporters, who credit the premier with improving their quality of life, largely ignored the accusations. The government has denied any wrongdoing.

‘Not Worried’

“Erdogan is not worried about leaks any more since the local elections proved they failed to affect his grassroots supporters,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by phone today. “The government now may even use the court decision as an argument to show that checks and balances are working in Turkey.”

The Constitutional Court examined the ban following complaints from people including opposition lawmaker Sezgin Tanrikulu.

Turkey imposed the ban after Erdogan said San Francisco- based Twitter Inc. had ignored orders from lower Turkish courts to remove content related to the graft probe, some of which implicated the premier and his close allies and relatives. Turkey has also blocked access to YouTube, where recordings were posted.

The information technology board said it has been holding talks with Twitter about establishing a “mechanism that will speed up efforts to prevent abuses when the individual rights of Turkish citizens and the confidentiality of their private lives have been breached.” It said it hoped that those efforts won’t be undermined by the Constitutional Court ruling.

--With assistance from Ali Berat Meric in Ankara.