YouTube Is Back On In Turkey Two Months After The Prime Minister Banned It

Users are now free to watch anti-Erdogan or cat videos galore.

Turkey’s telecom regulator lifted the government’s ban on YouTube Tuesday, one week after the country’s highest court ruled that the government’s March 27 order violated human rights.

“As the Constitutional Court verdict was received today, YouTube will be open to access later today,” an official with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s office told Reuters.

Erdogan has frequently used the public demonization of social media to pander to his largely offline base, while also cracking down on Twitter and Facebook users, key constituencies of the anti-government protests that have rocked the country since last summer’s Gezi Park protests.

Erdogan banned Twitter on March 21 in the lead-up to municipal elections — and only lifted it April 3 under pressure from a series of court cases and international outcry. Erdogan ordered the March 27 YouTube ban just hours after leaks of alleged recordings of Turkish government security meetings about Syria were uploaded to YouTube.

Erdogan, his family, and key officials in his government have been accused of widespread corruption, with many of the allegations resulting from information leaked via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the majority of votes in the March 30 elections. Erdogan is now expected to run for president in August elections; analysts predict that if he does, Erdogan will move to expand the presidential position.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, which sparked waves of demonstrations against Erdogan and infringes on political and media freedoms. Erdogan preemptively banned protests in Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square Saturday, but police clashed with protestors who nonetheless took to the streets.

Turkish police briefly detained CNN journalist Ivan Watson while he was on air covering the protests. On Tuesday, Erdogan accused Watson of having impartial reporting, which CNN strongly denied.

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