Turkey’s telecoms authority lifted a two-week-old ban on Twitter on Thursday, after the constitutional court ruled the previous day that the block breached freedom of expression, a spokesman from the office of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said.
Access to Twitter was blocked in the runup to last Sunday’s local elections after a stream of leaked recordings of senior officials appeared on the site.
Turkey’s Official Gazette published the court’s ruling on Thursday morning, further piling pressure on the telecoms authority, TIB, to lift the ban. TIB removed court orders blocking the site from its webpage on Thursday afternoon, after which Erdoğan’s office confirmed the ban was no more.
YouTube however remains offline in Turkey. The TIB blocked it one week after blocking Twitter. Legal challenges are pending.
Following the constitutional court’s decision, the Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, who has opposed the bans, was quoted as saying both websites should be made available. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, said in a tweet that it welcomed the ruling.
Within minutes of the Twitter ban being lifted, the site was flooded with messages, with one user saying: “Welcome back to Twitter, Turkey.”
The lifting of the ban means that the TIB will instruct Turkey’s internet providers to unblock access to the site, a process likely to take several hours.
Erdoğan’s critics saw the ban as the latest in a series of authoritarian measures to crush a corruption scandal that has grown into one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.
Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, with internet analysts reporting a surge in tweets since the ban was imposed, but the issue has become a tug-of-war between Erdoğan’s administration and Twitter.
The US state department had responded to the court ruling by urging Ankara to respect the decision and end the ban.
Erdoğan has repeatedly dismissed the leaked tapes – which point to wrongdoing by officials and members of his