Erdogan Says No Respect for Court Decision Lifting Twitter Ban

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he doesn’t respect a Constitutional Court ruling that forced his government to restore access to Twitter after a ban imposed 10 days before local elections on March 30.

The government lifted the ban yesterday, complying with the order from the top court. The court said April 2 that the ban on the micro-messaging service was a violation of the constitution’s Article 26 guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Erdogan said today that the ruling ignored national values to defend a U.S. company. Turkey had imposed the ban on March 20 after the premier said San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. (TWTR) ignored orders from lower Turkish courts to remove content and that he’d dig it and similar services “up from the roots.” Turkey has also blocked access to Google Inc.’s YouTube, where recordings were posted, as the prime minister’s government faces a corruption probe it labels a coup attempt.

“I don’t respect this decision,” Erdogan said in a televised press conference at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul before flying to Azerbaijan. “It has nothing to do with freedoms.”

The bans came after the graft probe was made public on Dec. 17 with the arrests of businessmen and the sons of three former cabinet ministers. A deluge of recordings circulated via anonymous accounts on Twitter since then have called into question everything from the financial probity of ministers and their families to their religious piety. The ban was enacted by executive order after the government passed a new law allowing websites to be blocked without a court decision.

“I don’t find such a decision national,” Erdogan said. “While a U.S. company is being defended, our national moral values are ignored.”

Erdogan also questioned the legality of the court decision. His objection comes a day after President Abdullah Gul hailed the ruling as one based on “universal law,” Hurriyet newspaper reported today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net; Onur Ant in Ankara at oant@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net Benjamin Harvey, Karl Maier

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