ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—Turkey’s Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication (TİB) has blocked access to Russia’s state news agency website Sputnik, without issuing prior notification, citing “legal consideration” of a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on Law No. 5651, an administration measure has been taken for this website (sputniknews.com) according to decision No. 490.05.01.2016.-56092, dated 14/04/2016, of the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication,” reads an error message that appears when users attempt to access the website from Turkey.
Sputnik Turkey editor-in-chief Mahir Boztepe announced the blockage on his Twitter account, adding that Turkish users were denied entry not only to the agency’s Turkish website but also to all its websites in 31 languages.
“Access blockage to Sputnik from TİB. No justification, many pretexts,” Boztepe tweeted, adding a message addressed to the Turkish media: “Do not fear, these days shall pass.”
No one was available for comment at Turkey’s telecoms and Internet regulatory agency, Reuters reported.
In a statement, Sputnik’s top editor, Margarita Simonyan, described the block as “a further act of harsh censorship” in Turkey and said the site had been blocked late on April 14, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin made comments criticizing “some political leaders” in Turkey.
Turkey faced strong criticism from both the European Parliament and the U.S. State Department on April 15, after the former’s progress report and the latter’s annual human rights report slammed the country for a sharp deterioration in civil rights and liberties.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow have been tense since Nov. 24, 2015, when the former downed a Russian warplane on the Turkish border with Syria, citing an airspace violation. Turkey claims that it warned the Russian aircraft multiple times before shooting it down, while Russia denies any warnings reaching its side.
Following the jet downing, Putin imposed sanctions on Turkey and trade between the two countries has plummeted.