Censorship continues: Despite court ruling, Turkish authorities continue to block YouTube

The Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) released a statement on Wednesday at midnight, stating that it will continue to block access to popular video-sharing website YouTube as the site had not removed 15 videos as a Turkish court had requested, including those insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic.
The Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace blocked nationwide access to YouTube via a ruling on March 27, but reversed its ruling on April 4 following an appeal. However, despite the court decision, the BTK insisted on blocking the entire website instead of the pages of the 15 videos.

In its statement, the BTK said the court ruling requests that certain videos be removed by YouTube and if the company fails to do so, access to entire website will be blocked by the telecommunication authorities. It added that those 15 videos include libelous content against Atatürk, which is criminalized in Turkey.

Turkey banned access to YouTube after a leaked meeting between top security officials made its way to the video-sharing website. The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) cited a March 27 ruling from the Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace in doing so.

Following a Constitutional Court ruling on Thursday that blocking access to Twitter is a violation of free speech, the Gölbaşı court on Friday changed its ruling, this time ordering only a block on access to 15 videos on YouTube instead of the entire site.

The court offered a self-criticism in its latest ruling, saying its earlier ruling was a “major intervention into freedom of speech, a fundamental value of a democratic society.”

The court notified both the TİB and the BTK, which should have then lifted the ban, but did not.

In the recording that reportedly caused the ban on YouTube, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler can be heard discussing a possible intervention in Syria and potential responses from the international community.


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.
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