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updated: 4/3/2014 7:27 AM

Twitter still blocked despite Turkish court ruling

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Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey was still blocking Twitter on Thursday, despite a high court ruling against the ban.

Turkey's Constitutional Court ordered access to be restored Wednesday, calling the two-week-old ban a violation of the right to free expression. The decision was published in the Official Gazette early Thursday and the Ankara Bar Association said it was final and had immediate effect.

The fact that Twitter remained blocked raised questions about whether the government would flout the ruling.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the government would implement the high court decision but gave no time frame. In a criticism of the high court decision, Atalay said it should "safeguard" people's right to privacy on social media website.

Turkey blocked access to Twitter last month after users posted links suggesting government corruption. The government then blocked access to YouTube following the leak of an audio recording of a secret government security meeting. The leaks were posted in the run up to local elections on March 30, which gave Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party a decisive victory.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, an opposition legislator who along with two academicians petitioned the high court to overturn the ban, called for access to be reinstated immediately, threatening to file a legal complaint against the government for "abuse of power."

The social media bans sparked international criticism of Turkey -- a country that is a candidate to join the European Union.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey welcomed the high court's decision to lift the ban on Twitter. The EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule said on Twitter that he looked forward to the "swift enforcement" of the court order.

Many tech-savvy users, including President Abdullah Gul, found ways to circumvent the ban on both Twitter and YouTube.

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