Turkish Finance Minister Simsek defends Twitter ban

Protesters hold placards against the Twitter ban in Ankara Protesters opposed to the ban on Twitter took to the streets of Ankara on Friday

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Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his government's ban on Twitter, accusing the website of failing to comply with court orders.

Mr Simsek told the BBC that no company should see itself as above the law.

The government banned the website on Friday, after users shared information about allegations of corruption against high-level officials.

Analysts say web users have found many ways of circumventing the ban, which was widely criticised.

Twitter has so far made no public comment on the ban, but the company on Friday posted a message in both English and Turkish telling users how to send tweets via text messages.

There are estimated to be about 10 million Twitter users in Turkey.

Members of the Turkish Youth Union hold cartoons depicting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against a ban on Twitter, in Ankara (21 March 2014) Many young urban Turks have taken to the streets in protest over the Twitter ban
Turkey"s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine greet their supporters at an election rally in Ankara (22 March 2014) Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) has accused Twitter of 'systematic character assassination'
A Turkish woman looks at her smartphone in the Eminonu district of Istanbul There are about 10 million Twitter users across Turkey

Mr Simsek, who accepted that banning social-media sites "doesn't reflect well" on his government, insisted that the ban was not a crackdown on free speech.

"The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply," he said.

"I don't think any global company, whether it's a media company, whether it's an industrial company, it shouldn't see itself [as being] above the law."

The minister said it now looked as if Twitter was working with the Turkish authorities to get the ban lifted.

A senior Turkish government official told Reuters that talks with Twitter on ending the ban "were going positively".

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was said to have been angry that people have used the website to spread allegations of corruption about members of his inner circle.

In 2010, the country lifted its ban on YouTube - two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

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