Residents of Turkey can no longer do online research using Wikipedia now that its government has banned the website using a controversial censorship law.
Wikipedia Forced Offline in Turkey
Reuters reports that the Turkish government justified the block by citing a law allowing authorities to ban access to websites “deemed obscene or a threat to national security.”
According to Turkey’s communications ministry, Wikipedia had tried to run a “smear campaign” against the government. Allegedly, several entries on the website accused Ankara of working with militant groups.
Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that Ankara would lift the ban on Wikipedia if the website’s administrators met certain demands.
Reuters reports that — while accused of censorship by watchdog groups — the Turkish government has previously denied such activities.
However, after a failed coup attempt by a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces in July 2016 , the government began firing civil servants and jailing journalists. According to Reuters, Turkey placed 81 journalists in jail following the coup attempt. Furthermore, interviews conducted by The Guardian allegedly revealed that the journalists have been subjected to severe mistreatment.
A Global Battle Against Free Speech
While this kind of censorship may seem totalitarian to some, the practice is not foreign to many western governments.
WikiLeaks, for example, has become the target of governments throughout the west — especially the United States government. Authorities have made several attempts to shut down WikiLeaks and imprison its founder Julian Assange.
The attempts to silence the whistleblower, in addition to a rape allegation against him in Sweden, led to Assange isolating himself in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. He has lived in the embassy since receiving asylum from Ecuador in late 2012.
Assange’s supporters feared that he had died in October 2016 when the Ecuadorian embassy cut off his internet access after WikiLeaks published the now-infamous Hillary Clinton emails. Assange later appeared on a livestream to prove he had not died.
Other whistleblowers — most notably Edward Snowden — faced similar treatment by the US government. Such actions by governments show that censorship is real, and not a thing merely left to conspiracy theories and middle-eastern totalitarian regimes.
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Images via Wikipedia, The Federalist