Turkey’s ban on Wikipedia to be lifted after top court ruling issued

World Faizah Kamal 16-Jan-2020
Turkish Court
Turkish court with flag © Oguz Eren | Dreamstime.com

Turkey’s telecommunications watchdog is set to lift its ban on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, after the official publication of a top court ruling on January 15 stating that the ban, which has been in place for more than two years, was a violation of expression.

The Constitutional Court gave the detailed ruling in the Official Gazette published on January 15. Access to Wikipedia is set to be restored, as the ruling was conveyed to Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).

On December 26, 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that the access ban on Wikipedia in the country is a violation of freedom of expression. The BTK blocked access in April 2017, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.

Access to Wikipedia and all its language editions were blocked under a law that allows the government to ban websites it considers posing a national security threat.

Wikipedia declined to remove content from the community-generated site, citing its opposition to censorship. It petitioned the Constitutional Court in May 2017 after talks with Turkish officials and a challenge in lower courts failed.

On December 26, the court said on its website that it had ruled “that freedom of expression, which is under the protection of the 26th clause of the Constitution, had been violated.”

The top court ordered the Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace, which made the decision on the access ban, to unblock Wikipedia.

The ruling was passed by a ten-to-six majority in the court.