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Turkish court reinstates YouTube ban

A Turkish Magistrate Court in Ankara reinstated the nearly-three year ban on YouTube [media website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday, just days after it was lifted. The court ordered access to YouTube blocked [Anatolia report, in Turkish] after video of former opposition leader Deniz Baykal in a bedroom with a female aide surfaced on the site. Baykal resigned [BBC report] in May following the exposure of video revealing his affair. The court ordered the Telecommunication Transmission Directorate (TIB), which controls Internet accessibility in Turkey, to direct YouTube to remove the video of Baykal and block access to the site if it failed to comply. On Saturday, the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of Ankara lifted the nearly three-year ban [JURIST report] on YouTube after videos allegedly insulting Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Turkish News profile] were removed from the site's content. Insulting Ataturk is a criminal offense in Turkey, punishable by prison sentence. After confirming with the police department that the disputed content had been taken down, the prosecutor's office ordered the TIB to enable YouTube for Turkish Internet users.

Turkey's ban on YouTube was originally implemented [JURIST report] in 2008 after insulting clips of Ataturk were discovered on the site. Earlier this year, the TIB also placed a ban on certain Google sites [JURIST report], which made it difficult for Turkish citizens to access YouTube indirectly. Turkish President Abdullah Gul criticized these bans [JURIST report] on his Twitter account and called for them to be lifted. The OSCE has repeated called on Turkey to bring its penal code in line with OSCE commitments and international standards. Specifically, Article 301 [AI Backgrounder] of the Turkish penal code, which criminalizes insulting "Turkishness," has been criticized for too-strictly limiting free speech, a limitation that is seen as a stumbling block [JURIST report] for Turkey's admittance to the EU.

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