ANKARA: Turkey has lifted its long-time ban on Wikipedia following a ruling by the Constitutional Court that defined it as a violation of freedom of expression.
The ban was put in place in April 2017 over some entries that the government disagreed with, especially accusations that Turkey was cooperating with terrorist groups.
When the court notifies the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) of its verdict, the ban will be totally removed.
The ruling was passed by a 10-to-six majority in the country’s top court where Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization hosting Wikipedia, had applied to revoke the ban.
The foundation also applied to the European Court of Human Rights, where the trial has been ongoing since last year.
Shutting down Wikipedia was an unfair decision ... we don’t have any legal guarantee that they won’t ban this website again in the future.
Isik Mater, a digital rights activist
Isik Mater, a digital rights activist and research director at the NetBlocks monitoring group, told Arab News: “Shutting down Wikipedia was an unfair decision. There are even six members of the Constitutional Court who claimed that it wasn’t a violation of freedom of expression. In that case, we don’t have any legal guarantee that they won’t ban this website again in the future.”
Gonenc Gurkaynak, the Turkish lawyer for Wikipedia, tweeted that the country “needs more freedom of expression.”
Some 127,000 websites and 95,000 individual web pages are currently banned in Turkey, where social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have faced temporary bans, especially after popular protests or terrorist acts.