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Turkey bans YouTube

Telco blocks access to Web site

A Turkish court has ordered the blocking of access to the YouTube Web sites after videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, were found on the site.

The order was issued Wednesday evening.

Visitors to the YouTube site were greeted with the message, “Access to this site has been blocked by a court decision!”

Turk Telekom, which provide the majority of Turks with their Net access, is complying with the ruling until further notice. “This ban has nothing to do with us. Turk Telekom is just executing the court order, which is its legal obligation,” said Ahter Kutadgu, Turk Telekom’s VP of corporate relations.

The 33 second video prompting the ban allegedly called Ataturk and Turkish people homosexuals. It came in the midst of what Turkish media outlets had dubbed a “virtual war” between Greeks and Turks on YouTube, with the rival camps trading insults. Turkish daily Hurriyet reported thousands of irate Turks had written to YouTube demanding the video be removed.

“We respect the authorities in Turkey and are committed to working with them to resolve this. We should note, however, that the video in question is no longer on the site,” read a statement issued by YouTube execs.

There is some confusion in Turkey as to whether the ban is still being enforced despite YouTube removing the clip. Some reports in the country have indicated it is still possible to access the site by changing the domain name, although the official line remains that the block is still in place.

“For the time being we have not received any court order lifting this ban. As soon as we do, we will lift the ban,” said Kutadgu.