China shuts down more than 13,000 websites in past three years

China maintains a strict censorship regime, banning access to many foreign news outlets, search engines and social media including Google and Facebook. (Reuters)
Updated 24 December 2017

China shuts down more than 13,000 websites in past three years

BEIJING: China has closed more than 13,000 websites since the beginning of 2015 for breaking the law or other rules and the vast majority of people support government efforts to clean up cyberspace, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.
The government has stepped up already tight controls over the Internet since President Xi Jinping took power five years ago, in what critics say is an effort to restrict freedom of speech and prevent criticism of the ruling Communist Party.
The government says all countries regulate the Internet, and its rules are aimed at ensuring national security and social stability and preventing the spread of pornography and violent content.
A report to the on-going session of the standing committee of China’s largely rubber stamp parliament said the authorities had targeted pornography and violence in their sweeps of websites, blogs and social media accounts, Xinhua said.
As well as the 13,000 websites shut down, almost 10 million accounts had also been closed by websites, it added. It did not give details but the accounts were likely on social media platforms.
“Internet security concerns the party’s long-term hold on power, the country’s long-term peace and stability, socio-economic development and the people’s personal interests,” Xinhua said.
More than 90 percent of people surveyed supported government efforts to manage the Internet, with 63.5 percent of them believing that in recent years there has been an obvious reduction in harmful online content, it added.
“These moves have a powerful deterrent effect,” Wang Shengjun, vice chairman of parliament’s standing committee, told legislators, according to Xinhua.
Authorities including the Cyberspace Administration of China have called more than 2,200 websites operators for talks during the same period, he said. In addition, operators have closed nearly 10 million Internet accounts for violating service protocol, while information on terrorism and pornography has been removed.
China ushered in a tough cybersecurity law in June, following years of fierce debate around the controversial legislation that many foreign business groups fear will hit their ability to operate in the country.
China maintains a strict censorship regime, banning access to many foreign news outlets, search engines and social media including Google and Facebook.


Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

Updated 21 November 2019

Turkish court upholds verdict against 12 ex-staff of opposition newspaper

  • 14 employees of Cumhuriyet were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges
  • The case drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday upheld its conviction of 12 former employees of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper despite a higher court ruling, a lawyer for the newspaper said.
The court acquitted a 13th defendant, journalist Kadri Gursel, due to a ruling by the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest, said the lawyer, Tora Pekin.
In a case that drew global outrage over press freedom under President Tayyip Erdogan, 14 employees of Cumhuriyet — one of the few remaining voices critical of the government — were sentenced in April 2018 to various jail terms on terrorism charges.
They were accused of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front militant groups, as well as the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says organized a 2016 failed coup. Gulen denies any involvement.
The Cumhuriyet staff have been in and out of jail for the duration of their trials. The 14th defendant, Cumhuriyet accountant Emre Iper, was released last month and his case is still under court review.
The Court of Cassation, Turkey’s high court of appeals, had ruled in September for the 13 defendants to be acquitted, with the exception of journalist and politician Ahmet Sik. The court said Sik should be tried for a different crime.
The case of the 12 defendants will now be re-evaluated by the Court of Cassation, Pekin said.
“With the Court of Cassation ruling (in September), we thought this endless arbitrariness and injustice were ending. But we understood in court today that it wasn’t so,” said Pekin.
Since the failed coup, authorities have jailed 77,000 people pending trial, while 150,000, including civil servants, judges, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. Some 150 media outlets have also been closed.
A global press watchdog said on Tuesday more than 120 journalists were still being held in Turkey’s jails, a global record.
Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern over the scale of the crackdown. Rights groups accuse Erdogan of using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.