Turkish Constitutional Court Head Haşim Kılıç also indirectly responded to Prime Minister Erdoğan's criticism regarding the top court's decision to unblock Twitter. AA Photo
Turkey’s Constitutional Court did no wrong in promptly overturning a controversial ban on Twitter, the head of the court has said, noting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to the top judicial body’s actions was “emotional.”
“We do understand that some of the reactions might have been emotional. But in those cases, applications are made to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights and occasionally these are reviewed before all the legal paths are taken, considering the importance and the sensitivity of the case,” Haşim Kılıç said.
The court ordered authorities to lift the ban on Twitter on April 2, adding that it constituted a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution. The decision was harshly slammed by Erdoğan, who said the government would comply with it but that he personally did not “respect it.” He also criticized the court for handling that particular case with urgency while “a number of other cases are pending” and for making the decision before all other legal avenues had been exhausted.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the block be lifted before the March 30 local elections, but waited for the authorities to apply a stay of execution ruling before making it public, Kılıç said on April 7.
“The Constitutional Court met five days before the elections, on March 25. It debated the question and made a decision. But after that, we learned that a stay of execution was issued on the matter, so the court did not announce its decision,” Kılıç told journalists, referring to the ruling adopted by Ankara’s 15th Administrative Court. Following the ruling, Turkey’s telecommunications authority was given 30 days to implement the decision and unblock access to the social media network.
“We waited for the implementation of the 15th Administrative Court’s decision. We waited a week or even longer,” Kılıç said.
He confirmed that the decision to unblock Twitter was made unanimously by the panel of judges. “The Constitutional Court was forced to make public its decision after [the stay of execution] was not implemented. After all, it’s a decision that was made in unanimity during a meeting that I presided over,” he said.
Kılıç also said the decision was based on universal law as a response to Erdoğan’s statement criticizing it as contrary to “national values.”
Twitter was banned March 20 hours after Erdoğan vowed to “eradicate” the popular social media network during an election rally, triggering global outcry and ridicule.