Sunday

9th Aug 2020

Turkish court overturns Erdogan's ban on Wikipedia

  • Turkey blocked Wikipedia in April 2017 after the government claimed that the site was part of a 'smear campaign' against the country (Photo: The Preiser Project)

Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday (26 December) that the Turkish government's block on Wikipedia is a violation of freedom of expression, in a legal victory against the two-year-old ban.

The ruling was passed by a 10-to-six majority in the Turkish high court and the authorities are expected to lift the restrictions accordingly.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Turkey blocked Wikipedia in April 2017 after the government claimed that the site was part of a "smear campaign" against the country when it refused to delete content that suggested that Turkey had co-operated with jihadist militants in Syria.

The decision of the Turkish high court was welcomed by Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, who tweeted "Welcome back, Turkey!" After the ruling was made public.

"We join the people of Turkey, and the millions of readers and volunteers who rely on Wikipedia around the world, to welcome this important recognition for universal access to knowledge," the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that manages and hosts Wikipedia, also said in a statement.

'Welcome back'

Earlier this year, the Wikimedia Foundation also asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, a pan-European human rights tribunal, to lift the block on Wikipedia in Turkey, arguing that it was a violation of fundamental freedoms.

The ECHR decided to expedite and give priority to the case, calling the ban "unacceptable in a democratic society and not compatible with article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which protects freedom of expression".

The tribunal's ruling is still pending, but "thae ECHR's decision to fast-track our case is a recognition of the threat of government censorship to our most fundamental rights," Katherine Maher, the CEO of the foundation, said at the time.

Wikipedia has become one of the most widely-accessed websites in the world and an essential source of knowledge online.

Meanwhile media freedom in Turkey has been deteriorating under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), "censorship of websites and online social media has reached unprecedented levels [in Turkey]".

Turkey is ranked 157 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Wikipedia has also faced censorship in other countries, such as China and Russia.

Opinion

'Repatriation' of Syrians in Turkey needs EU action

We interviewed 18 Syrian refugees in Turkey by phone. They all said Turkish authorities had arbitrarily detained them in immigration removal centres and forced them to sign forms they were not allowed to read but believed were voluntary repatriation forms.

Erdogan warns Europe of new migration crisis

Turkey's president Erdogan said more violence in the north-western Syrian province of Idlib would trigger a new migration crisis "felt by all European countries."

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will "open the doors" for refugees and migrants to enter Europe unless it does more to help. The EU says it won't help Turkey create a so-called "safe zone" in north-east Syria.

Opinion

Turkey's tightrope could finally snap in Libya

Turkey has embarked on a neo-Ottoman strategy, aiming to re-establish itself as a regional power. This involves simultaneously reaping the benefits of Nato membership whilst pursuing an overtly-expansionist foreign policy, even including a loose partnership with Russia in Syria.

EU wary of violence in Belarus election

EU states have voiced fear of violence during Belarus elections on Sunday, as president Aleksander Lukashenko seeks to maintain his third decade in power.

News in Brief

  1. Germany breached rights of Madeleine McCann suspect
  2. EU offers trade perks to Lebanon
  3. Germany charges ex-Audi chiefs on emissions cheating
  4. UK quarantines Belgium, as European infections climb
  5. Bulgaria's Borissov mulls resignation
  6. EU prolongs anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel
  7. Swedish economy contracted less during April to June
  8. EU offers help to Lebanon after port explosion

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU wary of violence in Belarus election
  2. Iraqis paid €2,000 each agree to leave Greece
  3. EU's most sustainable islands are Danish 'Sunshine Islands'
  4. Worrying rows over future EU chemicals policy
  5. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  6. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  7. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  8. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us