The Turkish government block on Wikipedia is a violation of freedom of expression, the High Court in the country has decided and paves the way for lifting the two-year ban.
Judges of the Turkish Constitutional Court voted 10-6 in favor of Wikipedia, informed the state news agency Anadolu on Thursday and ordered the immediate lifting of the ban.
This decision was welcomed by the founder of Jimmy Wales, who on his previous trip to Istanbul tweeted his photo along with the message “Welcome back, Turkey!”
The government did not receive immediate comments and it was not clear when access to the online encyclopedia would be restored.
Turkey’s ban on all different language editions of Wikipedia has been in place since April 2017, after the website reported that government officials were involved in oil trade with the Islamic state and accused Turkey of sponsoring Isis and other terrorist organizations.
After Wikipedia refused to remove content from a community-maintained site citing its opposition to censorship, Ankara said that Wikipedia was part of a dirty campaign against the country.
Officials said at the time that an “administrative measure” was taken against the site under a large-scale law that allows the government to censor Internet content that, in its view, poses a threat to national security. Ankara provided no reason to ban.
Wales itself was “rebutted” from the World Expo held in Istanbul in May 2017.
In May 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that runs the web, applied for a constitutional court following unsuccessful negotiations with Turkish officials and a challenge in lower courts.
In May this year, the Foundation took Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg because of a ban. The Foundation statement at the time stated that the decision to petition the ECHR had been taken “only after continued and exhaustive attempts to cancel the bloc through court proceedings in Turkish courts, good faith conversations with the Turkish authorities and during campaigns. to raise awareness of the bloc and its impact on Turkey and the rest of the world ”.
The ECHR ruled against Turkey more than any other country. Ankara routinely ignored the judgments and instead decided to pay fines ordered by the court.
The ECHR accelerated the case, giving Turkey a reason to ban Wikipedia by the end of the year, calling the block “unacceptable in a democratic society and incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression”. .
The new ruling of the Turkish Constitutional Court should prevent a further ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against Ankara.
While many Turkish residents use methods such as VPN and mirror sites to circumvent blocked internet content, online censorship remains a tough problem for the country.
At least 127,000 websites have been banned, as well as 95,000 individual websites, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are often temporarily blocked, usually after protests or terrorist attacks.
Media freedoms in Turkey have been steadily deteriorating over the last decade, but since the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which increased after the failed coup attempt in 2016, there has been an escalation, after which dozens of media have been closed or taken over.
Turkey is currently one of the world’s leading journalist prisoners in second place in China. It is estimated that, according to Human Rights Watch, 175 journalists and media workers estimate in custody or imprisonment for terrorist offenses and hundreds of others in court.