Turkish telecoms watchdog says waiting on ruling to unblock YouTube

By Reuters

May 30, 2014 08:21 AM EDT

(Reuters) - Turkish telecoms watchdog BTK said on Friday it had not yet received a ruling by Turkey's top court ordering the removal of a two-month block on video-sharing website YouTube.

The Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that a block on access to YouTube imposed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government was a violation of rights, but nearly 24 hours after the ruling was announced the video-sharing site remained inaccessible to most Turks.

The court said on Thursday that it has not yet written its full report on the issue and a source at BTK told Reuters on Friday it was not clear when the decision would arrive.

This is the second time that the Constitutional Court has overturned a media ban imposed by the government. Last month it ordered Twitter unblocked after the authorities shut down access in the run up to local elections.

Blocks were imposed after audio recordings purportedly revealing corruption in Erdogan's inner circle were leaked and widely circulated on the sites.

U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision, saying it was a boost freedom of expression in Turkey, which has been widely criticised by the West over the government's moves to silence critics.

"We are not judges of Turkey, but anything that increases freedom of expression, strengthens the freedom of expression is a good thing," Ricciardone told reporters.

Turkish authorities have so far defied orders from lesser courts to lift the YouTube ban, saying some offending content had not been removed from the site.

Erdogan has publicly criticised the Constitutional Court for acting against national interests, repeatedly calling for the ban on Twitter to be re-instated.

(Reporting by Ozge Ozbilgin, Writing by Ece Toksabay. Editing by Jonny Hogg/Jeremy Gaunt)

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