Posted on December 27, 2019 at 4:02 PM
Turkey banned Wikipedia for allegedly linking a terrorist group to the country. However, it seems the internet encyclopedia has won the battle and a court has ruled in its favor. The highest court in Turkey ruled that the ban of Wikipedia is a violation of the right of expression. With this development, the two-year ban will be rescinded soon.
The Turkish constitutional court justices presided over the case, as they voted more in favor of Wikipedia’s stance. Anadolu, the state-run news agency in Turkey, reported that the Turkish government had been ordered to lift the ban immediately.
Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is already elated by the news as he tweeted shortly after the site’s victory in court. In his tweet, he said, “Welcome back, Turkey.”
Turkish government yet to comment
As at the time of writing, the Turkish government has not yet responded to questions and inquiries about the case. The ban has not been lifted yet, and it’s not clear when the government would deem it necessary to lift the ban.
A long dicey battle-worn at last
Turkey banned Wikipedia for publishing what the country termed a defamatory entry on its website. According to the Turkish government, Wikipedia accused Turkey of having a hand in ISIs and other terrorist organizations.
The site also included in its entry, an oil trading deal with Islamic State. The terrorist link accusations did not go down well with the Turkish government, which prompted a two-year ban on all editions of the site in Turkey. But Wikipedia did not remove the content from the site, as it cited is disagreement against censorship. Consequently, Turkey accused Wikipedia of carrying out a smear campaign against Russia.
Turkish officials then invoked a law that allows it to ban internet contents and sites if it poses a threat to national security. The government took the administrative measure and completely denied Turkish residents access to all Wikipedia pages and contents. However, Wikipedia was not taking the ban lying down.
Wikipedia took the case to a higher court
In May 2017, the Wikipedia Foundation charged the country to court, claiming violation of freedom of expression. The case was initially tried in lower courts, but the courts failed to resolve.
The foundation took the country to the European Human Rights court in Strasbourg, France (ECHR). At the time, the Wikipedia Foundation released a statement, giving reasons for taking the case to an international court. According to the Foundation, it decided to take the case to the international court after the court in Turkey could not take a right legal action against such infringements on its rights.
ECHR looked at the case and called the ban unacceptable in a modern democratic dispensation. It court gave Turkey time to present a valuable case and give reasons while the ban should be upheld. It cited Article 10 of EC on human rights that provided freedom of expression.
Turkish Online censorship one of the heaviest in the world
Even after the censorship on Wikipedia, people in Turkey still use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access Wikipedia and other banned sites.
Hoverer, Turkey is one of the countries with the most bans on internet sites. Twitter and Facebook are frequently interrupted by the Turkish government for various reasons. Most times they are banned after terrorist attacks or protests. Currently, more than 127,000 sites are banned in Turkey.
Turkey, an uncomfortable zone for journalists
The past ten years have seen the deterioration of media freedom in Turkey. This is heightened by the incessant political turmoil in the country.
After the failed coup attempt on President Recep Tayyip in 2016, the crackdown has even intensified. The government is now using more severe measures to deal with political opponents, and journalists and media personnel always suffer the consequences.
Turkey is ranked as one of the worst places to live as a journalist. Currently, it ranks only behind China as the world’s leading prisoners of journalists. About 175 journalists are in detention for various purported crimes against the government.