ANKARA — Turkey has blocked online free 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 Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said an Ankara court ordered that a “protection measure” related to suspected Internet crimes be applied to Wikipedia, a collaborative online reference work.
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.
In response, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted his support for those who labeled the decision censorship of social media: “Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right.”
Turkey’s official news agency, quoting the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said Saturday the site was blocked for “becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.”
The state-run Anadolu Agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups but the site “persistently” did not.
“Instead of coordinating against terrorism, it has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena,” Anadolu quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.