Turkish court orders lifting of Twitter ban

ISTANBUL - A Turkish court Wednesday ordered the lifting of last week's Twitter ban imposed after audio recordings implicating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a wide-ranging corruption scandal spread via the social media site.

The administrative court in Ankara will inform Turkey's telecommunications regulator TIB of the decision, and access to Twitter is expected to be restored later in the day, private NTV television said.

Erdogan's government, which has been dogged by protests and is engulfed in the corruption scandal, has also banned thousands of websites.

The Twitter ban took effect on March 20 after Erdogan defiantly vowed to "wipe out" the online messaging service, saying it had failed to abide by hundreds of court orders to remove content deemed illegal.

The UN high commissioner for human rights was among international figures who condemned the ban, which has turned into an embarrassment for Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party ahead of key local elections Sunday - the first polls since the corruption scandal broke.

Many of Turkey's 10 million Twitter users managed to circumvent the ban, tweeting via mobile phone text services or using virtual private networks.

Social media networks have been flooded with recordings in which Erdogan can allegedly be heard interfering in court cases and business deals and seeking to block unfavourable media reports.