What just happened? Turkey’s highest court has ruled that the government’s ban on Wikipedia is a violation of freedom of expression. The block was put in place in April 2017 using a law that bans access to sites considered obscene or a threat to national security.
Wikipedia was banned in the country for “running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena,” according to Turkey’s Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communications Ministry. Entries claimed government officials were involved in oil trading with Islamic State and the country was accused of sponsoring Isis and other terrorist organizations.
Yesterday, The Turkish Constitutional Court voted 10-6 in favor of Wikipedia. While it ordered the ban to be lifted immediately, it’s not clear exactly when this will happen.
Welcome back, Turkey! pic.twitter.com/txeAnBMpLE— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) 26 December 2019
As reported by The Guardian, in May this year, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, took Turkey to the European court of human rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg over the ban. The court called the block “unacceptable in a democratic society and not compatible with article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which protects freedom of expression.” It gave Turkey until the end of the year to justify the ban.
Turkey has a long history of cutting off access to websites. Last year, it blocked several sites and online services, including Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Github, as it tried to control the spread of almost 60,000 stolen government emails.
Turkey cracked down on VPN users in 2016, leading to the blocking of anonymity network The Onion Router, aka Tor. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have also been blocked several times, and many anti-government sites remain inaccessible.