Erdogan Blocks Access to Wikipedia in Turkey

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( — May 2, 2017) — Referring to a law designed to protect national security, Ankara has blocked access to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, according to the country’s telecoms watchdog.

After a failed coup last July, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has restricted free speech only to statements and comments from his office. Following the recent suspension of thousands of police officers, the Turkish authorities have confirmed they have sacked more than 3,900 civil employees.

Although the reform of the telecommunications environment in Turkey was launched in 2004, the country now appears to be facing major freedom of speech challenges. The BTK telecoms authority said in a statement that the administrative measures against Wikipedia have been taken “after technical analysis and legal consideration.”

Turkey Blocks, the country’s internet watchdog that monitors internet filters for Turkey, stated on it’s webpage that the block of Wikipedia was first detected around 5am GMT. “The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” the release read.

According to the watchdog, when users try to access Wikipedia from Turkish IP addresses, they receive “connection timed out” error messages. After last year’s failed coup, the group accused the Turkish government of blocking social networks as part of a clampdown, which has put thousands behind bars.

Responding to the ban, Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales tweeted: “Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you to fight for this right.”

The April 16 referendum, which Erdogan won by a narrow margin, gave the Turkish president absolute power in the country. Aside from a media blackout, thousands of public sector employees, including police and army officers, have been sacked, in what appears to be an ongoing purge related to last year’s attempted coup. All of them, according to the Turksih Official Gazette, are suspected of inks to “terrorist organizations and structures presenting a threat to national security.”

In a single day, more than 9,000 police officers were suspended and another 1,000 detained for alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, Turkish preacher, writer and political figure currently living in exile in the US, whom Erdogan has accused of masterminding the failed coup. The Turkish president also said he is ready to reinstate the death penalty, after which he will be a supreme master of life and death in Turkey.