Wikipedia has been suddenly blocked in Turkey without court order or explanation. Internet censorship-monitoring network Turkey Blocks reported that the free online encyclopedia has become inaccessible in the country.
Turkey Blocks said users in Turkey have been unable to access all language editions of Wikipedia starting yesterday morning. The group which calls itself an independent "digital transparency project" said that the loss of access to Wikipedia is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country.
There was no court order that governed the blocking, only a provisional administrative measure. Turkey Blocks, however, expects an order in the coming days.
The measure has been implemented by the country's Information and Communication Technologies Authority.
Turkey has yet come out with an official statement on why the site has been blocked, but Turkish media is saying that the cause is "terror-related content". The local Hurriyet Daily News said that Turkey has been communicating with Wikipedia for the removal of content supporting terror and presenting Turkey as a supposed "supporter of terror". Another media outfit, NTV, reported that the Turkish government even demanded Wikipedia to open an office in the country, act in line with international law and follow court decisions and "not be part of the blackout operation against Turkey."
The Turkish media also reports that only if said demands are met would Wikipedia be reopened in the country. For now, those on Turkey attempting to access the site without the use of a virtual private network (VPN), connections would time out and browsers get the alert that "this site can't be reached".
Blocking websites has become a common tool of the Turkish authorities with Twitter, Facebook and Youtube also having suffered the same fate several times. Numerous anti-government sites are also inaccessible. Critics of Turkey says such moves reflect the government's repression of free speech. In fact, they point to the data that say over half of all requests to Twitter to remove content have bern initiated by the Turkey government itself.
Social media users protested the Wikipedia ban when news of its blocking came out, with some even speculating that it might be a bid to suppress criticism on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Wikipedia page. Erdogan just won narrowly a controversial referendum on April 16 giving him expanded powers.