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Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube

The country had cut off access after videos deemed offensive to its founder were posted to the popular video-sharing site.

Turkey's ban on YouTube has ended two years after the government cut off access because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder.

The ban was lifted after the offending videos were removed, according to Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of Internet issues.

"The ban has been removed," Yildirim said on Turkish TV news channel NTV, according to various media reports. "But we didn't get here easily, we have been through a lot in the process. I hope that they have also learned from this experience and the same thing will not happen again. YouTube will hopefully carry out its organization in Turkey within the limits of law in the future."

YouTube said it was aware that access to its site had been restored and was investigating the circumstances.

"We've received reports that some users in Turkey are once again able to access YouTube...We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process," YouTube said in a statement sent to Reuters. "We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy."

The ban was imposed in May 2008 after complaints that videos insulting to Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were being hosted on the popular video-sharing site. It is a crime in Turkey to insult the country's founders or institutions.

Update at 9 a.m. PDT November 1: A YouTube representative said the block was lifted when a German company, at the request of Internet Board of Turkey, used YouTube's automated copyright removal process to take the videos down from

"When we looked into this, we found the videos were not in fact copyright infringing, so we have put them back up, though they continue to be restricted within Turkey," the representative said. "We hope very much that our users in Turkey can continue to enjoy YouTube."