Turkey publishes ruling that Twitter ban violates free speech

Turkey publishes ruling that Twitter ban violates free speech
A Turkish national flag is seen through a broken Twitter logo in this photo illustration taken in Zenica, March 21, 2014.

ISTANBUL - Turkey's Official Gazette published on Thursday a constitutional court ruling saying the country's block on access to Twitter violated freedom of expression and individual rights, piling pressure on telecoms authorities to lift the ban.

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.

Now the ruling has been issued by the official state publication, the TIB is expected to consider the court's call to lift the ban, which caused public uproar and global condemnation.

The constitutional court announced its decision on Wednesday and sent its verdict to the TIB and the Transport Ministry, which also has responsibility for communications.

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

Erdogan's critics saw the ban as the latest in a series of authoritarian measures to crush a corruption scandal that 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 far ahead of rival parties in municipal elections on Sunday that had become a referendum on his rule.

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