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Turkey to maintain YouTube block despite ‘free speech’ ruling

Published time: April 10, 2014 12:59
AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic

AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic

YouTube will remain blocked in Turkey in spite of a court order ruling that the ban is a violation of freedom of speech. The prohibition of social media in Turkey sparked public ire and mass protests against internet censorship.

Turkey’s Communication Technologies Institution (BTK) announced on Thursday that while “criminal content” remains on YouTube, the ban will remain in place.

“Some content in 15 links was removed, but YouTube blocked some other content only for Turkish users while leaving it open to other countries. Since March 27, a total of 151 links have been located on the website broadcasting the same criminal content,” the BTK said, stressing that it had contacted YouTube to request the removal of this content.

This latest announcement ignores a court ruling on April 9 that overturned the prohibition, calling it illegal and an affront to the freedom of speech. It went on to say the ban was too broad and recommended simply blocking 15 videos as oppose to the entire site.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has fervently backed bans on social media, slammed the ruling and said it would not be respected.

The Turkish government shut off access to the social media site without a court order on March 27 prior to the elections after a leaked video was posted on the site where members of the government allegedly discussed a plan for military intervention in Syria.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara condemned the video as an “attack” on national security and alleged that it was “partially manipulated.”

The Turkish government was obliged to lift a ban on Twitter on March 26 following a Constitutional Court ruling that called the site blockade unconstitutional. The court ruling did little, however, to curb Erdogan’s fervor for closing down the social media site. On Tuesday he spoke out against the ruling and called for another ban to be imposed.

“The constitutional court's ruling on Twitter did not serve justice," Erdogan said on Tuesday at a parliamentary meeting of his AK Party. "This ruling should be corrected."

Erdogan previously pledged to wipe out the social media site in a heated campaign speech ahead of the March elections.

In spite of the mass protests against internet censorship, Erdogan’s AKP party triumphed in the elections. There were violent clashes during the elections as the police forces used tear gas and water cannon against the protesters. At least 8 people were killed in Turkey following the violent clashes.

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