Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia

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Turkey has blocked user access to Wikipedia and they receive ‘connection timed out’ error message from 8:00 (5:00 GMT).

Online Encyclopedia Wikipedia has been blocked in Istanbul on Saturday and people were unable to access pages without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). According to country’s telecommunication watchdog, it was necessary to cite a law considering threats to national security.

The exact reason for the ban remains unclear. Content on the site included articles and comments showing country’s alignment with different militant groups, said the statement by the Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales tweeted in response supporting those who labeled the decision as censorship: “Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you to fight for this right.”

“Instead of coordinating against terrorism, it has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in international arena”, said the Ministry.

According to authorities, they warned encyclopedia to remove the offending content but it refused. The concerned authorities have taken related administrative measures after technical analysis and taking legal considerations into account. The access ban is most likely to be lifted when Wikipedia meets the demands presented by Turkey.

President Tayyip Erdogan says the act of censorship and such radical measures are necessary keeping the given scope of security threat into account. All other websites appeared to be working normally.

The restriction has affected all different language editions of the website, blocking the access to web pages. Regardless of the action considering national security and protection of public order, this action has also raised concerns regarding freedom of speech.

“According to communication ministry Wikipedia was running a campaign against Turkey, having articles claiming its coordination with militant groups”, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The telecommunication watchdog is asked for the ban submission to the court within 24 hours and then it has to decide whether to sustain the ban further or not within two days.

By making use of social media handles, people are showing their vast reaction over the encyclopedia Wikipedia blockage.

In the aftermath of a failed coup last year, 120,000 people have been suspended from the civil services. More than 40,000 personals have been arrested including people from police department and judiciary on suspicion of links with terrorist groups.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 81 journalists were also jailed last year having a suspicion of ties with terrorist groups, making it the world’s top jailer of journalists.

Turkey has met with website blockage many times considering anti-government content or public well-being. The inaccessibility to web content usually occurred following the public protests and terror attacks.

Some groups have accused Turkey of temporarily blocking access to different social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube direct after the aftermath of militant attacks.

Previously YouTube was banned there for several months in March 2014. It happened because the site was used to broadcast purported footage of a security meeting on Syria.

Everything turned back to normal also after the November 2016 temporary blockage of messaging services on Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, and other means following the controversial issue of pro-Kurdish party leader’s arrest.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia claims to be ranked among the 10 most popular websites. While Turkey’s status is listed as “not free” on the 2016 Freedom on the Net index by independent rights watchdog Freedom House as more than 111,000 websites were blocked there as of May last year.

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