Turkey Blocks Wikipedia

Turkey has blocked Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog (ITCA) has said, citing a law that allows it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.

Turkish authorities said they had sacked more than 3,900 civil servants, and military and police personnel as the purge of alleged anti-government officials continued, and also banned TV dating shows.

The move to close down Wikipedia access 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 telecoms authority 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 if the ban should be upheld.

A block on all language editions of the online encyclopedia was detected at 5am GMT on Saturday 29th April, 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.

The latest purge of officials was reported in the government’s official gazette. The expelled included prison guards, clerks, academics, and employees of the religious affairs ministry, all of whom were suspected of links to “terrorist organisations and structures presenting a threat to national security”, the government said.

It is the second large-scale purge since the narrow victory of 16 April referendum giving Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sweeping powers.

Recently more than 9,000 police personnel were suspended and another 1,000 detained for alleged links to the network of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for the failed coup.

Also suspended were 1,127 employees of the justice ministry – including prison guards and clerks – plus 484 academics, and 201 employees from the religious affairs directorate, the government said on Saturday.

About 120,000 people have already been suspended from jobs ranging from the civil service to the private sector, and more than 40,000 arrested, following last year’s failed coup.

Mass detentions immediately after the attempted coup were supported by many Turks, who agreed with Erdoğan when he blamed Gülen for orchestrating the putsch, which killed 240 people, mostly civilians. But criticism mounted as the arrests widened.

Relatives of those detained or sacked since July say they have nothing to do with the armed attempt to overthrow the government, and are victims of a purge designed to solidify Erdoğan’s control.

Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.

“In radio and television broadcasting services, such programmes in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted,” said the text of the decree.

Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.

“There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” Kurtulmus said at the time.

Guardian

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