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Turkish appeals court blocks Twitter ban - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's twitter account is seen on a computer screen on March 26, 2014 in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s twitter account is seen on a computer screen on March 26, 2014 in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A Turkish appeals court issued a temporary injunction on Wednesday ordering the government-run telecommunications authority TIB to lift a ban on social media website Twitter.

The Turkish government ordered the TIB to block access to Twitter on March 20 after Turkish courts ordered the company to close three accounts on the social networking website, which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says the company refused to implement.

Lawyers in Wednesday’s case successfully argued the ban was unconstitutional.

San Francisco-based Twitter was also in the Turkish courts on Wednesday, filing a challenge to a court order requiring it to remove an account that had been tweeting about the alleged corruption of a former minister. The company said it had already complied with two other court orders because the content in question violated its own terms of service.

“We expect the government to restore access to Twitter immediately so that its citizens can continue an open online dialogue ahead of the elections to be held at the end of this week,” the company said in a statement posted to its official blog.

It was not clear whether the Twitter website had become accessible in Turkey as this article went to press, although Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters that the TIB would comply with the court order as soon as it received formal notice.

A source from Prime Minister Erdoğan’s office told Reuters that Turkey had 30 days to comply with Wednesday’s injunction.

In the midst of a corruption scandal that could affect his Justice and Development Party’s success in municipal elections on Sunday, the prime minister pledged to “eradicate” Twitter in a campaign speech last Friday.

Two weeks earlier, he had threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube in Turkey, and in February he told parliament that a “robot lobby” on Twitter was targeting his government.

During the six-day ban Turkish people found so many ways to skirt the block that a record 2.5 million tweets were posted from Turkey during the first few hours after the site was barred.

The hashtag #TurkeyBlockedTwitter was among the top trending hashtags globally during the first days of the ban, highlighting the international condemnation that has followed the block.

While activists—and even some newspapers—immediately began publishing information on how to access Twitter in spite of the block, a controversial Internet law passed in February means that the government has the capacity to trace people who attempted to skirt the ban.