Hours after lifting ban, Turkish court blocks access to YouTube

April 04, 2014, Friday/ 10:27:00/ İZZETTİN ÇİÇEK / Ankara

Ankara court has upheld the ban on YouTube late on Friday, hours after it repealed its own decision.

Ankara Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace blocked nationwide access to YouTube with a ruling it made on March 27, but canceled its ruling following a petition for an appeal.

Turkey banned access to YouTube after a leaked meeting between top security officials made its way to the video-sharing website. The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) cited a March 27 ruling from the Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace. Following the Constitutional Court's decision on Thursday that blocking access to Twitter is a violation of free speech, the Gölbaşı court on Friday changed its ruling, this time ordering only the blockage of access to 15 videos on YouTube instead of the entire site. The court offered a self criticism in its latest ruling, saying its earlier ruling was a “major intervention into freedom of speech, a fundamental value of democratic society.” The court notified both TİB and the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK), which should remove the ban.

TİB and BTK waited one day before implementing the Constitutional Court decision regarding Twitter.

In the recording that reportedly caused the ban on YouTube, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler can be heard discussing a possible intervention in Syria and potential world responses.

The appeal against the Gölbaşı court's initial ruling was filed by the Turkish Bar Association (TBB) following the Constitutional Court's Thursday ruling on Twitter.

It said the earlier ruling had violated all users' right to freedom of information, in violation of Article 13 of the Turkish Constitution on the protection of rights and freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Gölbaşı court however, said 15 links on YouTube should remain blocked. It based its newest ruling on the Constitutional Court decision.

Hours after the decision, the court made another ruling, at the objection of Ankara Gölbaşı Public Prosecutor's Office, deciding to ban the nationwide access to YouTube again. It said in the decision that the YouTube didn't remove the 15 videos.

Bozdağ's U-turn

In a related development, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who on Thursday praised the Constitutional Court's ruling regarding the Twitter ban, pulled a U-turn hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly criticized the high court over the ruling. On Friday, Bozdağ, during a visit to Yozgat, said the Constitutional Court had violated the law by hearing the appeal regarding Twitter at a time when all the other legal remedies had not been exhausted. “This is very wrong. The Constitutional Court has no such authority. This is not acceptable,” he said, in stark contrast with his praise for the court the day before.

 

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