Turkish authorities block Wikipedia without giving reason

Turkey has blocked all access inside the country to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Officials said "an administrative measure" had been taken, but gave no reason why.

Turkish media said authorities had asked Wikipedia to remove content by writers "supporting terror".

Turkey has temporarily blocked social media sites including Facebook and Twitter in the past, usually following protests or terror attacks.

The Turkey Blocks monitoring group said Wikipedia was unreachable from 08:00 (05:00 GMT). People in Istanbul were unable to access any pages without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website," Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority was quoted as saying, giving no further details.

However, the Hurriyet daily newspaper said Wikipedia had been asked to remove content by certain writers whom the authorities accuse of "supporting terror" and of linking Turkey to terror groups. The site had not responded to the demands, Hurriyet said, and the ban was imposed as a result.

Turkey Blocks and Turkish media, including Hurriyet, said the provisional order would need to be backed by a full court ruling in the next few days.

Another day, another outage - by Mark Lowen, BBC Turkey Correspondent
It's become all too familiar here: the endless "loading" icon followed by the message "server timed out".

Blocking websites is a common tool of the Turkish authorities: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have suffered the same fate several times, and numerous anti-government sites are inaccessible.

Critics say it smacks of Turkey's repression of free speech: over half of all requests to Twitter to remove content have come from Turkey, and the country now ranks 155 of 180 in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters without Borders.

Social media was in uproar as news of the ban emerged, with some users speculating that it might be a bid to suppress criticism on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Wikipedia page.

Mr Erdogan narrowly won a controversial 16 April referendum on increasing his powers, but the issue has deeply divided the country.

One Twitter user noted that the Wikipedia page on Turkey's referendum has a section on "controversies and electoral misconduct", and cites claims that the government suppressed the No campaign through "arrests, control of the media and political suppression".

The Turkish government has previously denied censoring the internet, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events.

Wikipedia has also faced censorship in other countries, including a temporary ban in Russia, and repeated crackdowns in China.

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Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia 'to protect national security, public wellbeing'

Access to Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, has been blocked in Turkey over content said to present the country as supporting terror.

The country's official news agency quoted the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications as saying the site was blocked for "becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena".

"After technical analysis and legal consideration ... an administrative measure has been taken for this website [Wikipedia]," the BTK telecommunications watchdog said in a statement on its website.

It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire websites for the protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public.

The Anadolu news agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups, but the site "persistently" did not.

It reported that Turkey demanded Wikipedia to open an office in the country, act in line with international law, abide by court decisions, and not be part of "blackout operation against Turkey".

If those demands were met and the offending content removed, the site would be reopened, the Anadolu news agency said.

The telecommunications watchdog 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 Wikipedia website was detected at 8:00am (local time) 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.

Wikipedia, a collaborative online reference work, is ranked among the 10 most popular websites.

Turkey accused of blocking access to social media sites in the past

The block is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey's Western allies, who say Ankara has sharply curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year's failed coup.

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 blocking access to some sites, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events. But technical experts at watchdog groups say the blackouts on social media 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 on suspicion of ties to terrorist groups.

President Tayyip Erdogan said the measures were needed given the scope of the security threat Turkey faced.

Turkey last year jailed 81 journalists, making it the world's top jailor of journalists, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.


Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia

Turkey has blocked online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the telecommunications watchdog said on Saturday, citing a law allowing 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 sharply 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 (Wikipedia)," the BTK telecommunications watchdog said in a statement on its website.

It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire websites for the protection of public order, national security or the well-being of the public.

Turkey's communications ministry said Wikipedia was attempting to run a "smear campaign" against Turkey, saying some articles purported that Ankara was coordinating with militant groups, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"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," Anadolu quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

The ban would be lifted if Wikipedia met the government's demands, Anadolu said.

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.

'CENSOR CONTENT'


A block on all language editions of the Wikipedia website was detected at 8:00 a.m. (1.00 a.m. ET) 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 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 blocking access to some sites, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events. But technical experts at watchdog groups say the blackouts on social media 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 on suspicion of ties to terrorist groups.

President Tayyip Erdogan says the measures are needed given the scope of the security threat Turkey faces.

Turkey last year jailed 81 journalists, making it the world's top jailor of journalists, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

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