Turkish court orders closure of independent news site Bianet

A Turkish court has ordered the blocking of news site Bianet. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 August 2019

Turkish court orders closure of independent news site Bianet

  • An article on Bianet said more than 200,000 of its articles would be lost by the shutdown

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court has ordered the blocking of news site Bianet, known for its human rights coverage, on “national security” grounds, according to a decision published on Tuesday.

The decision also targeted 135 other online addresses including YouTube and DailyMotion videos, as well as the Twitter account of Kurdish Member of Parliament Oya Ersoy.

The court in Ankara said the decision — which followed a police request — would “protect ... national security and public order,” without explaining how.

Founded in Istanbul in 1997, Bianet is well-known in Turkey for its articles on human rights, violence against women and its exhaustive coverage of trials linked to freedom of expression. Its articles are published in Turkish, English and Kurdish.

“The decision has not even been transmitted to Bianet, we found out by chance,” the site’s lawyer, Meric Eyboglu, told AFP.

“We were able to confirm that the decision covers the entirety of the website — it will be totally blocked. The closure of the site could happen at any moment,” she said.

An article on Bianet said more than 200,000 of its articles would be lost by the shutdown.

The local chapter of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) decried the decision as “scandalous” and “totally arbitrary,” calling for it to be overturned.

Rights groups have regularly criticized the erosion of free speech in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially since a failed coup attempt in 2016 triggered a massive crackdown on government critics in the press and beyond.

Turkey is the only country apart from China to block Wikipedia, and was ranked 157th out of 180 countries for freedom of the press in the most recent RSF list.


Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 22 February 2020

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.