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As Judge Lifts Twitter Ban, Turkish Media Start Fighting Back

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News on Tuesday published an open letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushing back against insinuations, leveled by Erdogan in a recent speech, suggesting that the paper and its parent group were printing reports critical of the government as a result of a complex blackmail scheme.

The Doğan Group is a media organization with deep-rooted traditions and has an international reputation with its commitment to the universal principles of journalism. It has pulled through great political storms with its honor intact. Neither the blackmailing of the circles you describe as “parallel,” nor the unfair and inexorable style that you use against us at electoral rallies, can deter us from our publishing principles.

We have never engaged in a political war with our publication and we will never do so. Our commitment is to Turkey, to the rule of law and to democracy. We expect you to not discriminate between citizens and institutions as the prime minister of 76 million people. Whatever percentage of votes you get, it should be your and all of our duty after the elections to defuse the dangerous polarization and tension that has spread throughout the whole country.

Hurriyet is one of several platforms and channels that has in recent days taken on Erdogan and the AKP, amid a widely ridiculed and largely failed effort by Ankara to dampen criticism by blocking citizens’ access to Twitter, which was overturned by the courts.

Commenting on the dynamics, the State Department tersely noted that the volume of Twitter use in Turkey had increased since Erdogan committed last week to “eradicate” the microblogging service.

Meanwhile VPN service ZenMate, whose programs have become popular for circumventing the restrictions, issued a statement defiantly insisting that it would continue providing service to Turkey.

Simon Specka, one of its founders, told Hürriyet that it would “continue to the help those who face bans on the Internet.” “People from around the world want free access to the Internet, which is a completely understandable demand. We will continue to help those who encounter problem in this respect to the very end,” said Specka.

Meanwhile a popular Turkish TV show, which had been banned by the High Elections Board, migrated to UStream, an online streaming platform, and continued airing.

[Photo: Buzz60 / YouTube]