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Report: Ankara court moves towards overturning Twitter ban in Turkey

Twitter applauded the decision and called on the government to restore access to its microblogging service immediately

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A Turkish court has sided with Twitter, whose microblogging service has been blocked in the country for almost one week following a government order.

An Ankara administrative court has put on ice an order issued by Turkey's telecommunications authority to cut off access to Twitter, the Hurriyet Daily News reported on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said the government will abide by the court's ruling. "We might not like the court decision, but we will carry it out," he told reporters, according to the Turkish newspaper.

For its part, Twitter applauded the court's decision and called for the government to lift the ban immediately "so that its citizens can continue an open online dialogue ahead of the elections to be held at the end of this week," wrote Twitter's general counsel Vijaya Gadde in a blog post on Wednesday.

He added that the company has been engaged in talks with Turkish authorities to discuss their concerns, explain how Twitter works and try to find a solution. "But still, the millions of people in Turkey who turn to Twitter to make their voices heard are being kept from doing just that," the post reads.

As a result, Twitter has decided to file petitions for lawsuits in various Turkish courts.

The controversy erupted on March 21, when the government blocked access to the microblogging site after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan vowed to "wipe out Twitter." The government said Twitter had ignored Turkish court orders to remove content that is considered to be in violation of the country's privacy laws.

The Twitter block triggered complaints from organizations inside and outside Turkey, including the U.S. government.

Ankara's 15th administrative court ruled that blocking Twitter in its entirety was a violation of Turkey's constitution and of the European Convention of Human Rights, according to the newspaper.

Turkey's telecommunications authority can appeal the ruling, but in the meantime the ban on Twitter should be lifted, according to legal experts interview by the Hurriyet Daily News. It's not clear when the block on Twitter will be removed.

Twitter said it complied in taking down two accounts that it determined violated its own terms of services, but the company is balking at fully complying with a third court order, because it involves removing an account used to accuse a former minister of corruption.

"This order causes us concern. Political speech is among the most important speech, especially when it concerns possible government corruption. That's why today we have also petitioned the Turkish court on behalf of our users to reverse this order," Gadde wrote.

For the time being, Twitter is making the account inaccessible in Turkey, but keeping it available for users in the rest of the world.

"We'd like to emphasize that at no point during this blockage have we given the Turkish government any user data like email or IP addresses, consistent with our commitment to user privacy," Gadde wrote.



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