Turkey reverses decision to block Twitter

Authorities lift the temporary ban on the social media website after it complied with the country's requests.

     Twitter says that Turkey filed the majority of the content removal requests made to the website in second half of 2014 [Reuters]
    Twitter says that Turkey filed the majority of the content removal requests made to the website in second half of 2014 [Reuters]

    Turkish authorities have reversed the decision to block Twitter after the micro-blogging site complied with requests on publication of images of a prosecutor killed by leftist armed men last week, the semi-official news agency Anadolu reported.

    Facebook, which was reportedly blocked earlier in the day, was opened to access after removing similar content. YouTube is still blocked, users in Turkey told Al Jazeera. 

    Prosecutors also filed a similar complaint for Google that led to a court decision on Monday, demanding the company remove similar content in four hours. Unless Google removes the content in the period mentioned, it is likely to be blocked in the first hours of Tuesday. 

    Bulent Kent, the secretary general of Internet Service Providers Union (ESB), said Twitter confirmed through its lawyers in Turkey that all the requested content had been removed from the website and it is now accessible, according to Anadolu.

    Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz and his two captors linked to Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C) died after a shootout at a courthouse in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    The DHKP-C had published pictures showing one of the gunmen, his face concealed by a scarf with the group's red and yellow insignia, holding a gun to the hostage's head at his offices in Istanbul.

    The images were circulated on social media while the siege was going on and were published by several Turkish newspapers as well as news websites.

    A day after the standoff, Turkish prosecutors launched a probe into four newspapers for disseminating "terrorist propaganda" after they published the images in question.

    Not the first time

    Turkey temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube in the run-up to local elections in March 2014, after audio recordings purportedly showing corruption in the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, were leaked to the internet. The decision caused a public uproar and drew heavy international criticism.

    Turkey filed the majority of the aggregate content removal requests made to Twitter in the second half of 2014, data published in February by the micro-blogging site showed. Out of 1,982 tweets and 85 accounts withheld in the period in question, 1,820 and 62 came from Turkey, respectively.

    Parliament last month approved legislation to tighten the government's control over the internet by allowing it to block websites without prior judicial authorisation, sparking outrage both at home and abroad.

    The Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country, found in various 2014 verdicts that blocking social media sites as a whole violates the right to freedom of expression and "had no legal basis".

    The court also annulled parts of a Turkish law on the internet that gives telecommunications authority the power to order the blocking of a URL without a court order.

    Parliament last month approved similar legislation despite last year’s Constitutional Court verdicts, once again, allowing it to block websites without prior judicial authorisation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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