ISTANBUL Turkey has blocked online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the telecommunications watchdog said on Saturday, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
The move is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies, who say Ankara has sharply 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 (Wikipedia.Org),” the BTK telecommunications watchdog said in a statement on its website.
It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire websites for the protection of public order, national security or the well being of the public.
The watchdog is required to submit such measures to a court within 24 hours. The court then has two days to decide whether the ban should be upheld.
A block on all language editions of the Wikipedia website was detected at 8:00 a.m. (1.00 a.m. ET) on Saturday, 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 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 blocking access to some sites, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events. But technical experts at watchdog groups say the blackouts on social media are intentional, aimed in part at stopping the spread of militant images and propaganda.
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