Turkey’s Constitutional Court decided on Thursday afternoon to lift a ban imposed on popular video sharing platform YouTube, a block which resulted in Turkey attracting extensive criticism from the international community.
The court said the ban was a violation of human rights.
The top court will now send its ruling to the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communication for the ban to be lifted.
TİB blocked access to YouTube on March 27, hours after a leaked voice recording that features the voices of the foreign minister, intelligence chief and a top army general discussing the developments in neighboring war-torn Syria was uploaded onto the website.
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 world responses.
The move to block YouTube came days after a ban was introduced on Twitter, where users had shared links to voice recordings that allegedly served as proof of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as some of the members of his family and ministers being involved in graft.
On April 4, the Ankara court that had blocked nationwide access to YouTube canceled its ruling following a petition for an appeal against the ban. The decision came shortly after the Constitutional Court found the ban on Twitter to be a violation of free speech.
The government views the ban on Twitter and YouTube, which placed Turkey in the league of undemocratic countries in the world, as an essential measure to protect citizens’ privacy.
“Twitter, mwitter!” Erdoğan told thousands of supporters at a rally ahead of March 30 local elections. “We will wipe out all of these,” said Erdoğan, who has said the corruption scandal is part of a smear campaign by his political enemies.
“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is,” he said in a characteristically unyielding tone.
Last month, the prime minister appealed to the Constitutional Court, complaining that court orders about the violations of his and his family’s rights on social media are not implemented.
Erdoğan said in his complaint that he and his family had been subjected to illegal wiretapping, and that his right to privacy as well as freedom of communication were violated.