Wikipedia appeals to Turkish constitutional court over website’s blocking

Wikipedia webpage in use on a laptop computer is seen in this photo illustration taken in Washington, January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has appealed to Turkey‘s constitutional court against a government decision to block access to its website, broadcaster CNN Turk said on Tuesday, a case that has heightened concerns about censorship in Turkey.

Turkey‘s telecommunications watchdog said two weeks ago that access to Wikipedia had been blocked, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed a threat to national security.

The block on the site was prompted by two Wikipedia entries accusing Turkey of links to Islamist militant groups, local media have reported. The communications ministry has said Wikipedia was attempting to run a “smear campaign” against the country, saying some articles purported that Ankara was coordinating with militant groups.

A Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal by the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, against the blocking, saying that while freedom of speech was a fundamental right, it can be limited in cases where there is a “necessity for regulation”.

Turkey’s crackdown on journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech has been condemned by the international community and rights organisations. Turkey ranks 151st out of 180 countries in the RSF 2016 press freedom index and has been labeled the “largest jailer of journalists” by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was also recently taken off the list of speakers at a World Cities Expo event to be held in Istanbul mid-May.

The Wikimedia Foundation has called for the Turkish government to restore full access to the site.

(Reuters/Kom News)