By Heini Järvinen

Turkey’s highest court ruled on 29 May 2014 that access to video-sharing site YouTube has to be restored. A brief decision published on the court’s website stated that the block was unconstitutional and violated individual rights and freedom of expression. On 3 June the access to the site was finally restored.

Until now Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government refused to implement lower court decisions to lift the ban  because “criminal content”, which refers to a recording of a key security meeting on Syria that was leaked online, remains available on the site.

Twitter and YouTube were blocked in Turkey in March, just days before critical elections, after recordings alleging corruption of Prime Minister Erdogan and his inner circle were shared on the platforms. Turkey’s telecommunications regulator imposed the block initially as a “precautionary administrative measure”. The block have had limited effect, as many Internet users have circumvented it by virtual private network (VPN) systems and TOR. The block on Twitter was lifted on 2 April, but the limits on YouTube remain, despite decisions from lower courts ordering the ban to be lifted.

The blocking of the social media platforms was seen by Erdogan’s critics as an attempt to prevent further details of the corruption scandal from being revealed. Erdogan on the other hand has claimed that the whole campaign to cast a slur on him has been engineered by Fethullah Gulen, an influential Turkish imam based in the United States. Gulen has denied the allegations.

Turkey unblocks YouTube after 2 months (03.06.2014)
http://mashable.com/2014/06/03/turkey-unblocks-youtube/?utm_content=buffer71afb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Turkish court orders YouTube access to be restored (29.05.2014)
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27623640

Turkey’s top court rejects YouTube ban (29.05.2014)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/05/turkey-top-court-rejects-youtube-ban-2014529195032711672.html

Turkey’s top court rules YouTube ban is unconstitutional (29.05.2014)
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140529-708787.html

Turkey’s top court rules YouTube ban violates freedom of speech (29.05.2014)
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-top-court-rules-youtube-ban-violates-freedom-of-speech.aspx?pageID=238&nID=67172&NewsCatID=339

Turkey’s Top Court Rules YouTube Ban is Unconstitutional (29.05.2014)
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140529-708787.html

Does Erdogan really want Gulen in Turkey? (06.05.2014)
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/erdogan-gulen-extradition-turkey-mistake.html