YouTube resumes in Turkey

January 24, 2008 9:27:33 AM PST
Access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube resumed on Thursday, six days after a court ordered it blocked because of clips allegedly insulting the country's founding father.It was not immediately known whether access resumed because clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were removed. Officials from the telecommunications company Turk Telekom - which implemented the court-ordered ban - could not be reached for comment and there was no immediate statement from YouTube.

It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of videos allegedly irreverent to Ataturk, a war hero who founded Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and who is still idolized in the country nearly 70 years after his death.

It is illegal to insult Ataturk in Turkey.

In March, another court blocked access to YouTube for two days after a complaint that some clips insulted Ataturk. The ban was lifted after YouTube removed the offending videos.

Until Thursday, users trying to access YouTube from Turkey were met with a notice saying the Web site was blocked under a court order.

The YouTube ban highlighted, once again, Turkey's freedom of expression shortcomings. The country is seeking European Union membership, but the 27-nation bloc is pressing it to improve its record on free expression. Several prominent Turkish journalists and writers - including Nobel literature prize winner Orhan Pamuk - have been tried for allegedly insulting "Turkishness."

Turkey is not alone in blocking YouTube. Last year, the Thai government banned the site for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand's revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

And in May, Moroccans were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco's treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975. An official blamed a technical glitch, but could not explain its nature or why it affected only the YouTube site.