Turkey’s Twitter ban violates free speech: constitutional court issues order to unblock

Turkey’s block on access to Twitter violated freedom of expression and individual rights, the constitutional court said on Wednesday, the most significant legal challenge yet to a ban which caused public uproar and international condemnation, according to reuters.

Turkey’s telecoms authority TIB blocked access to Twitter on March 21 after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he would “root out” the network, following a stream of anonymously posted audio tapes purporting to expose corruption in his inner circle days ahead of nationwide elections.

The constitutional court said it had sent its verdict to the TIB and the Transport Ministry, which also has responsibility for communications. It was not immediately clear whether the ruling would lead to a lifting of the block.

The court received several individual applications challenging the ban, including from a main opposition CHP party deputy and a prominent legal academic.

“If there is anyone who believes there is rule of law and human rights in this country, TIB must execute the court verdict and lift the ban on Twitter,” the academic, Kerem Altiparmak, said on his Twitter account.

Erdogan’s critics saw the ban as the latest in a series of authoritarian measures to crush a corruption scandal which had grown into one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.

Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, with Internet analysts reporting a surge in tweets since the ban was imposed, but the issue has become a tug-of-war between Erdogan’s administration and the San Francisco-based microblogging site, which has also challenged the move.

Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party emerged triumphant from municipal elections on Sunday which had become a referendum on his rule.

His party kept control of the two biggest cities, the financial hub of Istanbul, and the capital, Ankara, and increased its share of the national vote. The opposition has contested some of the results, including in Ankara, which saw a close race.

The Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) has yet to announce the final, official results, saying it will consider all the challenges before doing so. Thousands protested outside its offices in Ankara on Tuesday, demanding a recount.

 

Advertisements

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
This entry was posted in Turkey. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s