Turkey has blocked Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog said on Saturday, citing a law that allows it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
The move is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s western allies, who say Ankara has curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration ... an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” the BTK watchdog said in a statement on its website.
It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire sites for the protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public. BTK is required to submit such measures 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 online encyclopaedia was detected 0500 GMT on Saturday, 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 a notice that the site could not be reached and a “connection timed out” error. Monitoring groups have accused Turkey of blocking access to social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, particularly in the aftermath of militant attacks.
The government has in the past denied doing so, blaming the blackouts on spikes in usage after major events. Technical experts at watchdog groups, however, say they are intentional, aimed in part at stopping the spread of militant images and propaganda.
Since last year’s failed coup, authorities have sacked or suspended more than 120,000 people from the civil service, police and judiciary and arrested more than 40,000. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, said the measures were needed given the scope of the security threat Turkey faced.
Turkey jailed 81 journalists last year, more than any other country in the world, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.(Source: The Guardian)