Turkish Court Halts Twitter Ban Days Before Elections

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -

A Turkish court ordered the telecommunications authority to restore access to Twitter on Wednesday, five days after the government blocked access to the network.

The ban came shortly after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “rip out the roots” of Twitter, which has been a conduit to recordings suggesting corruption. Turkey holds crucial local elections Sunday, widely regarded as a referendum on his rule.

The move drew international criticism and many Turkish users flouted the ban, finding immediate ways to circumvent it. President Abdullah Gul tweeted his opposition to the blockage.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters the telecommunications authority would obey Wednesday’s court decision when it received official notice, but reserved the right to appeal.

Erdogan and other government officials remained defiant on Wednesday. During an election rally, Erdogan accused the opposition and media of being the “advocate of companies who don’t recognize Turkey’s laws and treat Turkey as a Third World country.”

But Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said he was merely implementing court orders: “Is it against the Constitution to implement court orders?”