Turkey’s top court rules Wikipedia ban breaches freedom of expression

The ban imposed by Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has remained in place since April 2017. [Shutterstock]

With six out of 10 votes, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday (26 December) that the government’s ban on access to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia violated freedom of expression, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

The ban was imposed by Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) in April 2017. The move caused an outcry among freedom of information activists who accuse Turkey of slapping bans on websites and social media with alarming regularity.

Turkish officials said at the time the measure was needed as Wikipedia had failed to remove from its pages the content that linked Turkey with terror groups, which Ankara deems false.

Now a local court is due to decide whether the ban will be lifted, according to Turkish media reports.

In May, the Wikipedia Foundation said it would take the ban to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.

“We are taking this action as part of our continued commitment to knowledge and freedom of expression as fundamental rights for every person,” the Wikimedia Foundation said in a statement in May.

Rights groups have regularly criticised the erosion of free speech in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially since a failed coup attempt in 2016 triggered a massive crackdown on government critics in the press and beyond.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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