The Turkish government has decided to block access to Wikipedia in the country, as its content presents Turkey as supporting terror. Turkish users have been unable to access all language editions of the site since 8 am on Saturday the 29th of April. The action took place without a court order, under a provisional administrative measure. The statement by the government cited a law that allows it to limit the access to individual websites for the protection of public order, the well-being of citizens and national security. Turkey Blocks, an internet censorship monitor, claims the order will be issued within days. Apparently, Wikipedia has been asked several times to remove content associating the country with terror groups. It is still unsure if this is a permanent change. Anadolu News Agency informed that the officials have delivered several demands, such as opening an office in the country, abiding international laws and not acting as a part of ‘blackout operation against Turkey.’ Thus, it looks unlikely that the site will be opened again.
The independent rights watchdog Freedom House estimates over 111,000 websites were blocked in Turkey since the May last year. Monitoring groups have accused Turkey of blocking or limiting access to social media, for instance, Facebook and Twitter, especially after militant attacks. The Turkish government has refused to take responsibility for most of them, claiming it was due to outages on spikes in usage as an aftermath of major events. The traditional journalism is also being threatened as 81 journalists have been jailed last year.
Since the mishandled coup in July 2016, Turkey has experienced two trends. One is the purge and punishment of people involved in the putsch. The second one is the ongoing suppression of the opposition and the media. The most evident case example is the court case against the Cumhuriyet newspaper. It involves 19 defendants, of which ten are currently behind bars. The newspaper’s blame is vigorous questioning and probing of government policies but the actual charges are of the collaboration with putschists. The accusation is backed by no evidence other than paper’s criticism of the current government. Altogether, these are worrying signs of where democracy and freedom of the press in Turkey is heading.