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European Court of Human Rights rules Turkey's ban on YouTube violated rights

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled Turkey violated the freedom of expression by blocking access to YouTube. The ruling comes amid concerns over freedom of expression and access to information in Turkey.

Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights when it blocked access to YouTube between 2008 and 2010. Authorities in Ankara considered ten videos on the popular video-sharing site insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

"Blocking without a legal basis users' access to YouTube infringed the

right to receive and impart information," the court ruled.

The Strasbourg-based court also ruled that "there was no provision in the law allowing the domestic courts to impose a blanket blocking order on access to the Internet, and in the present case to YouTube, on account of one of its contents."

Turkish law has been changed since to allow for the blanket blocking of websites.

The case was brought against Turkey in 2010 by three law teachers.

"They could legitimately claim that the blocking order in question had affected their right to receive and impart information and ideas," the court said.

"Insulting Turkishness"

Turkey regularly blocks access to websites and information, particularly on the grounds of what it considers "insulting Turkishness" and "terrorist propaganda" of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In March 2014, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then prime minister, temporarily blocked access to Twitter and YouTube following the leaking of audio recordings implicating him and his inner circle in an alleged corruption scandal.

Turkey also temporarily banned YouTube and Twitter in April after a court ordered them to take down photos of a prosecutor held by left-wing militants.

Critics and rights groups regularly accuse the government of

going down an authoritarian path and clamping down on freedom of expression.

Since the ECHR was established in 1959, Turkey

has had some 3,100 rulings against it,

a figure considerably higher than any other country.

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cw/jm (AFP, AP)

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