Impossible to Access Wikipedia in Turkey Without Judicial Order

Ömer Fatih Sayan, head of Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (Source: Hurriyet Daily News)
Ömer Fatih Sayan, head of Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (Source: Hurriyet Daily News)

Ömer Fatih Sayan, head of Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (Source: Hurriyet Daily News)

ANKARA, Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News)—It is impossible to grant access to the world’s largest encyclopedia, Wikipedia, unless Turkey’s judicial decisions are implemented, the head of the country’s telecommunications watchdog has said.

“There are judicial processes that had been completed regarding some Wikipedia pages but, unfortunately, Wikipedia has not removed those pages. Turkey obeys the rule of law and what will be said on the issue has already been said by the courts. It is impossible for Wikipedia to be opened without the implementation of those decisions,” Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) head Ömer Fatih Sayan said at the opening ceremony of the Turkey Informatics Summit on May 3.

Sayan said the country is a “civilization of knowledge,” while expressing his sadness over the access ban.

He also said authorities were open to any kind of cooperation on condition that the website administration abide by the law to implement judicial decisions so as to permit access.

“We can discuss it … Freedom is not one-sided. Turkey has the rule of law. Everyone should [act] within the law. No one has the right to say, ‘I do not recognize the Turkish courts.’ I also want to express that we are ready to provide all kinds of support to re-open Wikipedia,” Sayan said.

Sayan, meanwhile, urged the online encyclopedia to confirm the information it provides.

“My call is that Wikipedia should solve problems that led to its closure and the system should be rehabilitated at this point if required. We care about the latest developments in the fight against fake news on the internet … We find WikiTribune initiative by Wikipedia officials positive. Fighting against fake news is beneficial for all of us,” Sayan said.

The telecommunications watchdog stated on April 29 that it had blocked access to Wikipedia, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.

The Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace later ordered the ban after the Wikipedia administration reportedly refused to remove two English-language pages claiming that Ankara channeled support to jihadists in Syria.

In response, the Wikimedia Foundation appealed the court ruling that came after the administrative measure against the website.

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