The Constitutional Court argued the ban was a violation of freedom of speech. Prime Minister Erdoğan and other Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members criticized the decision, saying it was “unpatriotic.” The government accuses Twitter of failing to delete accounts that were found by Turkish courts to be in violation of the law.
On Tuesday, speaking to a group of journalists, the prime minister said: “They say it [Twitter] is about freedoms. It is not. It is all about commerce. They [social media sites] are all about commerce.”
“The Constitutional Court has turned the law upside down with its ruling. One can’t help but wonder if there are also elements of the parallel structure within the Constitutional Court as well. And the US is acting as their lawyer,” he said, referring to comments from the White House in support of the removal of the ban.
Since the launch of a graft investigation against his government, the prime minister has accused the “parallel structure” of attempting to undermine his government. He has said the Hizmet movement, a religiously inspired social community, is behind this parallel structure.
Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç on Monday defended the ruling, saying the decision was not “unpatriotic,” but universal.
Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bülent Arınç also criticized the high court’s decision, saying: “I think the Constitutional Court’s ruling is very wrong. It should be corrected.”
Arınç said the high court’s decision would encourage Twitter and other media companies to ignore rulings by Turkish courts. “Now Twitter has a reason not to implement court rulings that await action.”
Arınç said he had great respect for Constitutional Court President Kılıç but noted the court’s ruling failed short of protecting the “Turkish judiciary” and the “individual.”
Hours after Arınç’s statement, Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Lütfü Elvan announced that Twitter would be speaking to TİB and the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) in mid-April to discuss opening an office in Turkey.
On Tuesday afternoon Erdoğan reiterated his opinion that the Twitter ruling “should be corrected” while speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
The government has made drastic changes to the judiciary and the police force since the start of the Dec. 17 graft investigation. Thousands of police officers were removed from their duties and transferred to remote assignments, as well as many prosecutors, including the ones conducting the corruption investigation. Observers fear Erdoğan is trying to build a new judiciary loyal to his government.
Many believe the government’s remarks on the Twitter ruling might indicate changes to the high court’s structure in the near future.
Unlike Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül has said he was “proud” of the Constitutional Court for the ruling. In comments after the ruling, Gül said: “The Constitutional Court is the highest court. In the past, it used to make political rulings. I appointed 10 of the [current] 17 members. The fact that some important rulings are being made unanimously indicates that the members are basing their decisions on universal principles of law and this increases confidence. This is something which I am very proud of.”