Turkey lifts controversial Twitter ban

Summary:Turkey has lifted a much-criticised block on Twitter, 24 hours after its highest court overturned the ban as a breach of the right to free speech.

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 20 shuttered access to the social media site after it had been used to spread a torrent of anonymous leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption.

Turkey's NATO allies and international human rights groups strongly criticised the ban — as well as an ongoing block of video-sharing website YouTube — as a step backward for Turkey's democracy.

On Wednesday, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled the Twitter ban violated free speech and ordered the communications ministry and telecoms authority to reverse it "with immediate effect".

The government took 24 hours to react. First the telecoms authority TIB removed from its website a court order on the Twitter block and started contacting internet service providers to lift the ban.

Shortly after — as many of Turkey's Twitter accounts came live again — the transport and communications ministry confirmed the move in a brief statement.

"In line with the decision made by the Constitutional Court ... the measure blocking access to the Twitter.com Internet site has been removed," it said.

"After the necessary technical arrangements, the site will be opened to use."

The ban had been widely circumvented by many of Turkey's almost 12 million Twitter users, who have instead sent tweets via text message or by adjusting their internet settings.

Many Twitter users quickly commented on the move, with Nervana Mahmoud writing from Egypt, "Joy to the world, the Sultan has agreed", using a common nickname for Erdogan.

San Francisco-based Twitter reacted to the news saying: "We are encouraged by the news from Turkey today and welcome our Turkish users back to Twitter."

Topics: Social Enterprise, Government

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