YouTube access still not restored despite court decision
The Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) had still failed to lifted a ban on the popular video-sharing website YouTube on Friday, saying it was waiting for the Constitutional Court to send a ruling that declares the ban to be unconstitutional.

On May 29, Turkey's top court ordered an end to the two-month block on the video-sharing website, saying the ban -- imposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Developmenet Party (AK Party) government -- is a violation of freedom of speech.

Reuters said on Friday, based on a source inside the BTK, that the court had not yet written its full report on the ruling and it was not clear when the written decision would reach the BTK.

The AK Party government had blocked access to Twitter in March, a move that the top court also found to be unconstitutional. The Twitter ban -- imposed shortly before the local elections on March 30, after an account had posted leaked voice recordings that appeared to implicate Erdoğan, his family and his government in corruption -- was lifted over 24 hours after the court's ruling to remove the ban. Prime Minister Erdoğan slammed the court's ruling for being unpatriotic.

The Turkish authorities have so far defied orders from lesser courts to lift the YouTube ban, saying content the prime minister has described as "treason" has not been removed from the site.

On Friday, US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision. "We are not judges of Turkey, but anything that increases freedom of expression, strengthens the freedom of expression is a good thing," Ricciardone said.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, also welcomed the lifting of the YouTube ban and called for the immediate implementation of the decision.

"The two-months long blocking of YouTube was a clear violation of freedom of expression and media freedom in the country," Mijatović said.

"I urge the telecommunications authority to immediately restore access to YouTube in accordance with this final court decision," she said, adding that her office is monitoring the accessibility of the site in Turkey.

The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) blocked access to YouTube on May 27, hours after a leaked voice recording, allegedly featuring the voices of Turkey's foreign minister, intelligence chief and a top army general discussing developments in neighboring Syria, was uploaded onto the site.

In the recording, the alleged voices of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler can be heard discussing a possible intervention in Syria and potential world responses.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2014-05-30 17:00:02
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