Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia: monitor

(AFP)
Updated 29 April 2017
0

Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia: monitor

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Saturday blocked all access inside the country to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, an Internet monitoring group said, but it was not clear why the ban had been imposed.
A block affecting all language editions of the website in Turkey was detected from 0500 GMT after an administrative order by the Turkish authorities, the Turkey Blocks monitoring group said in a statement.
Residents in Istanbul were Saturday morning unable to access any pages of Wikipedia without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), AFP correspondents said.
“The loss of availability is consistent with Internet filters used to censor content in the country,” Turkey Blocks said.
Turkey Blocks and Turkish media, including the Hurriyet daily, said the site has been blocked under a provisional administrative order that would need to be backed by a full court order in the next days.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651, an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority was quoted as saying.
No reason was given for the order to block Wikipedia and other websites, including leading social media, appeared to be working normally.
Turkey Blocks said the restriction was in place with multiple Internet Service Providers.
Turkey has become notorious over the last years for temporarily blocking access to popular sites, including Facebook and Twitter, in the wake of major events such as mass protests or terror attacks.
Savvy Internet users frequently resort to the use of VPNs to get around these bans although there have been complaints that the use of VPNs has now also started to be blocked.
The government says such measures are always temporary and needed for national security but critics see them as another restriction on civil liberties under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The move to block Wikipedia caused an uproar on social media in Turkey with users angrily denouncing the decision to restrict access to one of the world’s most popular websites.
Some speculated the decision may have been prompted by deeply unflattering updates by critical users to Erdogan’s Wikipedia profile after he won the April 16 referendum on enhancing his powers.
The government insists that the new presidential system — largely due to come into force in 2019 — will improve efficiency but critics fear it will lead to one-man rule.


British minister demands Germany lifts block on Saudi arms sales

Updated 25 min 58 sec ago
0

British minister demands Germany lifts block on Saudi arms sales

  • Jeremy Hunt says Berlin’s halt in arms sales to KSA will hit UK defense industry
  • Requests major European defense projects like the Eurofighter be removed from embargo

LONDON: Britain’s top diplomat has demanded that Germany lifts its effective block on major European arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying the move stands to hurt the UK’s defense industry.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to Heiko Maas, his German counterpart, requesting that Berlin exclude the likes of the Euroflighter Typhoon and the Tornado fighter jet from its embargo.

Parts of those jets are made in Germany, meaning that their sale to Saudi Arabia is essentially blocked even though the deals might be struck by defense companies headquartered elsewhere.

Hunt expressed concern about the effect of Germany’s halt in exports to Saudi Arabia on both the British and wider European defense industry, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday.

“I am very concerned about the impact of the German government’s decision on the British and European defense industry and the consequences for Europe’s ability to fulfil its NATO commitments,” Hunt wrote in the letter to Maas, according to Der Spiegel.

“It is imperative that you immediately remove major European defense projects such as the Eurofighter and the Tornado from the arms embargo,” he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 7. Otherwise, Berlin risks “a loss of confidence in the credibility of Germany as a partner.”

Hunt said British defense firms would not be able to fulfil several contracts with Saudi Arabia such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four founding countries — Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain — and is represented by France’s Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo.

An official from Airbus last week said Germany’s halt in exports to Saudi Arabia is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoons to Riyadh, and has delayed potential sales of other weapons.

Airbus Defense and Space chief Dirk Hoke told Reuters that uncertainty about the issue had undermined Germany’s credibility, and could threaten future Franco-German defense projects.

“This is a serious problem,” Hoke was reported as saying. “We’re facing constraints in many projects, and many problems have been put on ice.”

Germany imposed the embargo in November, saying it would reject future export licenses to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals, which would entitle companies to compensation, but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now, Reuters reported.