Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube

YouTube logo The decision to ban YouTube was widely criticised by many Turks, including the president

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Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder.

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of internet issues, said the government had been in contact with Google, which owns YouTube.

Mr Yildirim said there was no longer any reason to ban the website, because the offending videos had been removed.

Insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk or "Turkishness" is illegal in Turkey.

The video clip prompting the ban was reportedly posted by Greek users of the website and dubbed Ataturk and Turks homosexuals.

Start Quote

YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future”

End Quote Binali Yildirim Turkish Transport Minister

The move was nevertheless widely criticised by many Turks, including by President Abdullah Gul, who asked officials to find a solution.

'Third party'

Speaking on Turkish television on Saturday, Mr Yildirim said the ban had been lifted after "common sense prevailed".

"But we didn't get here easily - we have been through a lot in the process," he told NTV.

"I hope that they have also learned from this experience and the same thing will not happen again. YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future," he added.

In a statement, YouTube said that it had received reports that some users in Turkey were once again able to access its content.

"We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process," it explained.

"We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy," the company added.

In 2007, Turkey's parliament adopted a sweeping law that allowed a court to block any website where there was "sufficient suspicion" that a crime had occurred.

The eight crimes listed include child pornography, gambling, prostitution, and "crimes against Ataturk".

In June, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the law was being used to block access to more than 5,000 sites, making internet censorship in Turkey amongst the heaviest in the world.

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