ANKARA – Facing growing criticism over banning Twitter, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul announced on Sunday, March 23, that the government would soon lift its ban on the giant social network after negotiations with a lawyer hired for Turkey negotiations.
“It is not legally possible to shut down the Internet and such platforms (as Twitter),” Abdullah Gul told reporters in Ankara before leaving for an official visit to the Netherlands, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“I believe this problem will be over soon,” he said.
“This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union. Therefore, it will be overcome soon.”
The government banned Twitter on March 20, after users shared information about allegations of corruption against high-level officials.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed most of the audio recordings as a “vile montage” put together by his political rivals.
According to a statement from Erdogan, the decision followed hundreds of appeals made by the Turkish courts to Twitter to close fake accounts deemed as infringements on privacy, but Twitter has been reluctant to implement Turkish court decisions.
The Turkish courts later appealed to the Ministry of Telecommunications to raise the concerns with Twitter.
Twitter delayed its response, angering Erdogan, who accused the site of indifference to the character assassination of Turkish citizens.
"Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping," the prime minister's office said.
The effort to shut down the service on Friday backfired with many finding ways to continue to tweet and mock the government for what they said was a futile attempt at censorship.
President Gul himself, a frequent social media user, took to Twitter on Friday to denounce the government’s ban hours after the network went dark, becoming the highest-level leader in the country to circumvent the block, along with some ministers.
"A total shutdown of social media platforms cannot be approved," he wrote.
Signs of détente have appeared following reports about ongoing negotiations between the Turkish government and a Twitter legal representative.
“Twitter did not have any representative in Turkey. There should be good communication channels with such… giants,” Gul told reporters.
“They now have a lawyer here acting for them.”
Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, Twitter has agreed to conform to the demands of the Turkish telecommunications ministry by closing down the accounts of fake users who have hijacked a number of Turkish citizens' identities.
According to a statement by Turkey's telecommunications regulator (TIB), one account has been suspended.
Turkey’s Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan said that he considered the suspension of the account by Twitter as a "positive step."
“I believe TIB and Twitter should continue their meetings," he added.
Turkey in the past has blocked access to YouTube, but this is the first ban on Twitter.
The social network is hugely popular in the country to the point where Turkish hashtags routinely appear in global trends.
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