Wikipedia blocked across Turkey
ISTANBULTurkey has blocked access to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog said on April 29, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law No. 5651, an administrative measure has been taken for this website [wikipedia.org],” the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said in a statement on its website.
Passed in 2014 by parliament, law no. 5651 allows the BTK to block access to individual webpages or entire websites for the protection of public order, national security or the well-being of the public.
The exact reason for the ban remains unclear. But Turkey’s official news agency, quoting the Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry, said on April 29 the site was blocked for “becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.”
“Instead of coordinating against terrorism, it has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
The agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups but the site “persistently” did not.
The ban would be lifted if Wikipedia met the government’s demands, the agency said.
Turkey had demanded that Wikipedia open an office in the country, act in line with international law and abide by court decisions and not be part of “blackout operation against Turkey,” according to the agency.
Under the law, the watchdog is required to submit its ban to a court within 24 hours. The court then has two days to decide whether the ban should be upheld.
A block on all language editions of the Wikipedia website was detected at 8 a.m. on April 29, monitoring group Turkey Blocks said on its website.
“The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” it said.
When attempting to access the webpage using Turkish internet providers, users received notice that said the site could not be reached and a “connection timed out” error had occurred.
In response, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted his support for those who labeled the decision censorship.
“Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right,” he said.
The ban was also criticized by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmakers Barış Yarkadaş and Eren Erdem. Erdem said the ban puts “Turkey in line with North Korea,” while Yarkadaş called it “censorship and a violation of the right to access information.”