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YouTube access restored in Turkey after 2-month blockade

Ban on video-sharing site lifted five days after the country's highest court said the move violated freedom of expression.


Turkish authorities said Tuesday that access to YouTube has been restored after a two-month ban on the video-sharing site.

The move comes five days after the country's highest court ruled that blocking Google's video-sharing site violates freedom of expression. The blockade was lifted Tuesday after the Transportation and Communication Ministry and the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) -- the country's telecommunications authority -- removed a lower court order from its website, allowing Internet service providers to restore access to the video site.

The ban was imposed on May 27 after an audio recording uploaded to YouTube allegedly revealed conversations between Turkish government and military officials over security issues in Syria. The audio reportedly detailed a recording of government officials trying to determine how to justify air strikes against Syria.

Turkey's ban on YouTube, along with a similar ban on Twitter, led to large-scale demonstrations and international criticism of the Turkish government's increasingly restrictive policies on social networks. While Turkish officials said the bans were rooted in national security concerns, opponents said the moves amounted to censorship.

The ban on YouTube came shortly after the Turkish government took Twitter offline for the country's 76 million citizens on March 20 following actions by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The microblogging site went dark on March 20 after Erdogan threatened to "wipe out" the site in the wake of a political corruption scandal that has embarrassed the government through news, videos, and images posted on the microblogging site.

Erdogan has been under intense political pressure in recent months after recordings surfaced on social networks that purportedly were conversations between himself and his son, during which the two allegedly discussed how to hide large amounts of money. Erdogan has said the recordings are fake and has vowed to take legal action against the "vile attack."

Like the YouTube blockade, the ban on Twitter was lifted two weeks later after Turkey's constitutional court called the two-week-old ban a violation of free speech and individual rights.

CNET has contacted Google for comment and will update this report when we learn more.