A Turkish court on Wednesday upheld an appeal to end a blockage of Twitter that has provoked public outrage and drawn international condemnation only days ahead of the critical local elections.
It was not immediately clear if or when the bar would be removed, although Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc urged Turkey’s telecom authority, which carried out the ban, to respect the court order.
“We abide by the court rulings; that’s what the constitution orders. We may not like them, but we abide by them. If this decision is genuine ... then what TIB [Turkey’s telecommunications authority] needs to do after this is obvious,” Arinc told reporters in Hatay in televised comments. The Turkish Bar Association challenged the blockage, saying it was without legal grounds and “an arbitrary decision.”
An Ankara court on Wednesday found in favor of the association’s request and ruled that TIB halt its block on the site.
TIB blocked access to Twitter on Friday as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan battles a corruption scandal, in which a stream of anonymous postings purportedly revealing government wrongdoing have been posted on the platform.
“The Turkish judicial system is mostly anti-Erdogan,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Part of it remained staunchly Kemalist and resists the authoritarian impulses of Erdogan, the Islamist.
Another part, infiltrated by the Gulenists, similarly feels uncomfortable with the attempt of the prime minister to stifle any kind of opposition, particularly at a time when Erdogan challenges their movement,” said Inbar, who just returned from Ankara. The Gulen movement is an international religious and social movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen.
On another issue, Inbar said that there is no evidence that an Israel-Turkey agreement over the Mavi Marmara incident would help Erdogan at the polls.
Erdogan has cast the audio postings on Twitter as part of a plot to unseat him, contrived by followers of his former ally, the US-based Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan’s ruling Islamist AK Party, as well as large parts of the bureaucracy, have been penetrated by Gulen’s Hizmet movement.
Awkwardly, the Turkish nationalist opposition Republican People’s Party, founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924, and the Islamist Gulen movement find themselves opposing Erdogan together.
“Recent developments in Turkey, for instance, blocking access to Twitter, are worrying situations. I hope it won’t last long,” British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore said on Tuesday evening, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.
Erdogan on Tuesday accused Twitter of “threatening national security” and has repeatedly defended the ban during rallies in the run up to a municipal election on Sunday that is seen as a test of whether he has been damaged by the allegations.