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Wikipedia is shut down in Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, takes Vezir Cakras by hand while speaking on his mobile phone inside his car stationed over the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. Erdogan’s office says the Turkish president has talked Cakras out of jumping off a bridge to commit suicide. Television footage on Friday showed Erdogan’s motorcade stopping over Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge where a man was apparently contemplating jumping off. An official from Erdogan’s office told the Associated Press that Vezir Cakras was depressed because of “family issues.” (Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service Pool via AP Photo )

Turkey has mysteriously and without warning, blocked access to the popular on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia (no relation to Wikileaks). The mass censorship comes as members of Turkey’s secular Kemalist opposition party CHP, move to challenge the legality of President Erdogan’s referendum on expanded powers which he claimed victory in on the 16th of April. Members of Turkey’s leading opposition party plan to take the government to court in the European Court of Human Rights. 

According to Reuters, the BTK telecommunications watchdog claims that Wikipedia’s censorship in Turkey was done under the auspices of laws which allow the government to censor websites which are a threat to national security or contain obscene material. As Wikipedia is merely a large, publicly edited encyclopedia, it is difficult to understand how it could fall under either category.

It is inconceivable that the block is remotely related to national security. Rather, it appears to be yet another example of Erdogan flexing his political muscle against popular, multi-lingual websites.

It has been reported that Turkish access to Wikipedia is blocked on all language versions of the encyclopedia including Turkish, English, Russian and Arabic.

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