The country’s official news agency quoted the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications as saying the site was blocked for “becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena”.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration … an administrative measure has been taken for this website [Wikipedia.Org],” the BTK telecommunications watchdog said in a statement on its website.
It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire websites for the protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public.
The Anadolu news agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups, but the site “persistently” did not.
It reported that Turkey demanded Wikipedia to open an office in the country, act in line with international law, abide by court decisions, and not be part of “blackout operation against Turkey”.
If those demands were met and the offending content removed, the site would be reopened, the Anadolu news agency said.
The telecommunications watchdog is required to submit such measures to a court within 24 hours. The court then has two days to decide whether the ban should be upheld.
A block on all language editions of the Wikipedia website was detected at 8:00am (local time) on Saturday, monitoring group Turkey Blocks said on its website.
“The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” it said.
When attempting to access the webpage using Turkish internet providers, users received a notice that the site could not be reached and a “connection timed out” error.
Wikipedia, a collaborative online reference work, is ranked among the 10 most popular websites.
Turkey accused of blocking access to social media sites in the past
The block is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies, who say Ankara has sharply curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.
Monitoring groups have accused Turkey of blocking access to social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, particularly in the aftermath of militant attacks.
The Government has in the past denied blocking access to some sites, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events. But technical experts at watchdog groups say the blackouts on social media are intentional, aimed in part at stopping the spread of militant images and propaganda.
Since last year’s failed coup, authorities have sacked or suspended more than 120,000 people from the civil service, police and judiciary and arrested more than 40,000 on suspicion of ties to terrorist groups.
President Tayyip Erdogan said the measures were needed given the scope of the security threat Turkey faced.
Turkey last year jailed 81 journalists, making it the world’s top jailor of journalists, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Source: ABC News