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RIGHTS > Constitutional Court orders authorities to unblock Twitter

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The Constitutional Court has ordered authorities to unblock Twitter, saying the decision violated the rights of users who had appealed the decision.

Regarding individual complaints, the court has unanimously ruled the ban is a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution. "Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thoughts and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively," the article states.

The decision was immediately delivered to the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and Turkey's Transport, Maritime and Communication Ministry with the demand that they follow the order. The court also ruled that legal fees be paid to the applicants.

With the ruling, authorities must immediately unblock Twitter in Turkey, according to Metin Feyzioğlu, the president of Turkey's Bar Associations (TBB), who spoke to daily Hürriyet. "If they don't abide by the ruling, we will file a criminal complaint against the TİB by attaching the ruling of the Constitutional Court" Feyzioğlu added.

The ruling will also be used as a precedent for similar cases in the future, experts have said. If the court ruling is respected, authorities will not be able to impose blanket bans of this kind.

The individual complaints were separately filed by Ass. Prof. Dr. Kerem Altıparmak, Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Turkey blocked access to Twitter on March 20, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to close down the social media platform in a campaign speech.

The Turkish government subsequently blocked YouTube, widened the ban and started to practice a controversial DNS policy despite a previous court decision ordering the unblocking of the site. After an initial spike, Twitter usage in Turkey decreased almost 50 percent.

A Turkish court ruled March 21 that it could not “repeal the ban on Twitter” as the government’s blocking of access to the social media platform was “an executive decision, not a judicial verdict.”

The Ankara 15th Administrative Court later issued a stay of execution order for the Twitter block after a number of complaints were filed to courts last week. 

April/02/2014

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