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Turkish court orders halt to Twitter ban

Official says telecommunications regulator TIB, which announced the ban, given 30 days to implement court's decision.

Last updated: 26 Mar 2014 17:47
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Twitter was blocked after leaks implicating Erdogan in a corruption scandal emerged on the platform [Reuters]

A Turkish court has overturned the government's controversial Twitter ban imposed after audio recordings spread via the social media site implicating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a corruption scandal.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters the telecommunications regulator TIB would obey Wednesday's decision by the Ankara administrative court when it received official notice, but reserved the right to appeal.

A government official said, however, the TIB had 30 days in which to implement the court's decision.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to speak publicly on the issue, the AP news agency reported.

Twitter also filed lawsuits in Turkish courts on Wednesday to challenge the ban, and said it had suspended content related to two of three court orders given as the legal basis for the ban because they violated its own rules. 

But it was challenging a third order to remove an account accusing a former minister of corruption, the Reuters news agency reported.

TIB had blocked access to the US-based social network last week under orders from Erdogan, after it became a conduit for links to recordings suggesting government corruption.

On Tuesday, the UN called on Turkey to stop blocking Twitter, saying Ankara could be breaching its international rights obligations by banning the site.

"We are concerned that the blocking of access to Twitter on the 20th of March by the telecommunications agency may be incompatible with Turkey's international human rights obligations," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online. So we would urge the authorities to rescind the blocking of Twitter," Colville said.

The US also denounced the ban as an "unacceptable" attack on freedom of expression.

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