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Turkey orders access to Twitter restored after two-week ban

TurkeyTwitter, Inc.Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish government late Thursday ordered Internet service providers to restore access to Twitter, lifting a two-week ban on the microblogging site a day after the nation's highest court ruled it illegal and an infringement on free speech.

An official from the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that "the decision to block access to Twitter has been rescinded," the Hurriyet newspaper reported on its website.

Erdogan's government blocked access to Twitter on March 20 after the San Francisco-based social media company refused to remove tweets that included YouTube video links showing what appeared to be Turkish government ministers and members of Erdogan's inner circle engaged in corrupt practices.

A leading opposition figure and two academics filed suit against the government after the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) blocked access to Twitter 10 days ahead of Turkey's local elections this past Sunday.

On Wednesday, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the ban on Twitter violated the constitution's guarantee of free expression and ordered access restored immediately.

YouTube access remains blocked by the government, but legal actions similar to the one brought to restore Twitter are pending in court.

The attempts by Erdogan's government to stifle compromising information related to the investigation of high-level corruption allegations has been seen as the latest heavy-handed action by the Islamist premier and his Justice and Development Party.

Although the corruption scandal has presented Erdogan with the strongest challenge to his authority in 11 years as government chief, his party handily won a majority of the local government seats decided by Sunday's vote.

carol.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @cjwilliamslat

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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TurkeyTwitter, Inc.Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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