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Erdogan doesn’t ‘respect’ lifting of Twitter ban

The Turkish prime minister criticized a constitutional court ruling that lifted the recent ban on Twitter

Published: Updated:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticised a constitutional court ruling lifting the recent ban on Twitter, saying the court should have rejected an application to restore access to the micro-blogging site.

“We are of course bound by the Constitutional Court verdict, but I don't have to respect it,” Agence France-Presse quoted Erdogan as telling reporters at a news conference before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan.

He added: “I don’t respect this ruling.”

Access to Twitter was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections and Turkey’s telecoms authority lifted the two-week-old ban on Thursday after the court ruled the block breached freedom of expression in the country.

YouTube was also blocked on March 27.

But the Hurriyet daily reported online on Friday that an Ankara court ruled against the ban.

Leaks implicate inner circle

Erdogan’s government has been rattled by the twin crises of street protests since last June and, since December, a torrent of online leaks on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube which appeared to implicate the premier’s inner circle in corruption.

YouTube remains banned since it was also used to leak an audio recording that was purportedly of a conversation between top government, military and spy officials weighing possible military action inside neighboring war-torn Syria.

“All our national, moral values have been put aside,” Erdogan said about the spate of anonymously posted recordings. “Insults to a country’s prime minister and ministers are all around.”

The Internet crackdown has sparked protests from Turkey’s NATO allies and human rights groups, who have deplored it as curbing the right to free speech - a notion Erdogan dismissed.

“This is a commercial company which has a product,” he said of the San Francisco-based micro-blogging service.

“It is not only Twitter. YouTube and Facebook are also commercial companies. It is everyone’s free will whether or not to buy their product. This has nothing to do with freedoms.”

(With AFP and Reuters)