Access to Radikal article blocked by Internet watchdog

Access to Radikal article blocked by Internet watchdog

Access to Radikal article blocked by Internet watchdog

Radikal coordinator and columnist Ezgi Başaran.

Turkey’s Internet Service Providers Union has directly blocked access to an article by Radikal coordinator and columnist Ezgi Başaran, after she wrote a piece criticizing the rector of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ).

Access to Başaran’s column, which listed several actions taken by İTÜ Rector Mehmet Karaca against students and lecturers who attended protests, was cut for 24 hours one day after it published.

The column was published on the Radikal website on Sept. 30 and access to it was blocked on Oct. 1, without Radikal or Başaran being informed in advance. The ban was applied using controversial new measures to tighten control of the Internet, which were passed by Parliament last month.

A statement released on the İTÜ website said the university had taken legal action against the column, which it criticized for “destroying the reputation of the 241 year old university.”

Karaca applied to court for the removal of the column, after which the court took urgent action and sent its decision to ban access to the column to the Internet Service Providers Union. Access to the column was banned permanently upon the court’s decision on Oct. 1. Daily Radikal’s lawyers have taken action and objected to the court’s decision.

In her column, Başaran criticized Karaca for ordering the removal of trees that were planted on campus in memory of the protesters who died during the Gezi Park protests, as well as increasing the number of security guards on campus and failing to allocate an adequate budget for the opening of the social sciences faculty.

A new law adopted on Sept. 10 introduces two new measures increasing the powers of the TİB, a regulatory body whose head is appointed by the government. In July, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then the prime minister, stated that the directorate should be run by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), and the current TİB head is a former MİT operative.

The first measure of the new law allows the TİB to order the closure of sites within four hours for reasons of “national security, to protect public order, or to prevent a crime from being committed.”