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Twitter Complies With Turkey's Request, Ban to Be Lifted

Turkish authorities had blocked access to social media over publication of photographs of an Istanbul prosecutor taken hostage last week and later killed.

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Twitter has complied with Turkey’s request to remove photographs of an Istanbul prosecutor held at gunpoint by far-left militants, and a ban on the microblogging site will be lifted, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

“Twitter has agreed to shut down accounts and remove images relating to last week’s hostage-taking. The website will reopen to access very shortly,” the official told Reuters.

“Users across Turkey will be able to access the site within the hour,” he added. Twitter was not immediately available for comment. The website earlier said it was working to restore service.

Turkish authorities banned access earlier on Monday to Twitter and YouTube after an Istanbul judge imposed a block on access to social media sites showing photographs of slain prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz held at gunpoint by far-left militants and taken hours before he was killed in a shootout last week.

Talks with YouTube were still under way, the official said.

Facebook said it had complied with a Turkish court order requiring it to restrict access to some content or face a block on its service. A company spokesman said it would appeal the order.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a prosecutor had demanded the block because some media organizations had acted “as if they were spreading terrorist propaganda” in sharing the images of the hostage-taking.

“This has to do with the publishing of the prosecutor’s picture. What happened in the aftermath is as grim as the incident itself,” Kalin said. “The demand from the prosecutor’s office is that this image not be used anywhere in electronic platforms,” he told a news conference in Ankara.

Prosecutor Kiraz died from his wounds last Tuesday after security forces stormed the office where members of the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) had taken him hostage. His two captors were also killed.

The DHKP-C had published a picture of Kiraz with a gun to his head and said it would kill him unless its demands were met.

“The wife and children of prosecutor Kiraz have been deeply upset. The images are everywhere,” Kalin said earlier.

Google said it was working to restore service to YouTube, which it owns.

Turkey’s telecoms regulator could not immediately be reached, and there was no statement on its website.

Turkey temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube before local elections in March 2014, after audio recordings purportedly showing corruption in then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle were leaked on their sites. That decision caused a public uproar and drew heavy international criticism.

Turkey filed over five times more content-removal requests to Twitter than any other country in the second half of 2014, according to data published in February by the site. Last year, Turkey tightened laws allowing sites to be blocked by the authorities more easily.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun and Asli Kandemir; additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt, Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; writing by Nick Tattersall and Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Dale Hudson, Larry King)

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.