Two weeks after Turkey blocked access to Twitter — and a week after a lower Turkish court ruled that it was illegal — the Turkish government has finally removed the ban and allowed unrestricted access to the social network, following a decision by a higher court that found the blockade to be an infringement of the right to free expression. The court cited Article 26 of the country’s constitution, which states:
“Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thoughts and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively.”
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed the ban because he said users of the service were spreading malicious information about his government and Twitter refused to act. But critics of the government said that he shut off access because the information that was being spread on the service implicated him and other senior ministers in high-level corruption.
Twitter users found a number of methods of getting around the block, including the use of alternate DNS servers (some provided by Google) as well as anonymous proxy software such as Tor, but even those methods were being restricted by the authorities before Thursday’s decision.
Twitter fought the ban in the Turkish courts, along with a number of legal and free-speech advocacy groups, and also fought attempts by the government to force it to reveal information about the users who were distributing the documents about alleged corruption. On Thursday, the company applauded the Turkish decision to remove the blockade and said access would be restored soon.