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Turkey: PM ‘has no respect’ for Twitter ruling

One phone user makes light of the government ban on Twitter. Picture: Getty

One phone user makes light of the government ban on Twitter. Picture: Getty

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he had to comply with the Turkish high court ruling to unblock Twitter, but insisted he did not respect it.

Turkey blocked access to the social media website two weeks ago after some users posted links suggesting government corruption.

It later also blocked access to YouTube after a leaked recording of a top government security meeting was posted on the video-sharing website.

Mr Erdogan had vowed to “rip out the roots” of Twitter for allowing the postings.

The government lifted the Twitter ban a day after the high court ruled that it violated the right to free expression.

Mr Erdogan said of the court’s decision: “I don’t have to respect it. I don’t respect it.”

He said the court was protecting a tool of foreign influence, and he described Twitter as “the product of an American company”.

“All of our national moral values are being set aside,” the prime minister added.

Also yesterday , a lower court ruled that a total blockage of access to YouTube was a “serious intervention against freedom of expression” and ruled that the blanket ban be lifted.

However, it said access to 15 videos deemed to be in violation of Turkish laws could remain blocked.

Turkey failed to implement an earlier lower court ruling on the lifting of the Twitter ban, and it took it several hours to abide by Thursday’s high court ruling.

The court told the country’s telecommunications authorities the two-week-old ban had to be lifted as it was a breach of freedom of expression.

Mr Erdogan had vowed to “wipe out Twitter” after users spread allegations of corruption.

Users across the country found many ways of circumventing the prohibition, which was widely criticised and ridiculed.

Access to Twitter was blocked in Turkey in the run-up to local elections, which Mr Erdogan’s ruling, Islamist-rooted AK Party won resoundingly.

Mr Erdogan has lashed out at social media, accusing “plotters” of leaking recordings to deliberately undermine him.

An Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is based in the United States, has denied allegations that he is involved.

Mr Erdogan ordered the Twitter ban last month after recordings of corruption allegations linked to him and members of his family were posted and shared online. He said the recordings were fake and had been edited.

During big anti-government demonstrations last year, protesters made heavy use of both Twitter and Facebook to spread information.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul, a Twitter user, had previously spoken out against the bans.

Meanwhile, in Ankara, the local election board rejected a call from the main opposition CHP party to recount the results of Sunday’s local elections in the capital, according to a source in the Party.

Mr Erdogan’s AK Party largely dominated Turkey’s electoral map in the local polls, keeping control of the main cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, where the CHP had challenged the result.

The source said the CHP would appeal the election board’s decision.

 

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