Turkish Government Blocks Access To Wikipedia

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The Turkish government has blocked access to Wikipedia, alleging that the online encyclopedia is running a “smear campaign” against Turkey.

“Instead of coordinating against terrorism, it has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena,” Turkey’s communications ministry said, according to Anadolu Agency, a Turkish government news service.

The move comes two weeks after Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won a disputed referendum election granting him more executive powers.

The communications ministry did not specify which of Wikipedia’s entries it has problems with, but it said they website shows “Turkey in coordination and aligned with various terrorist groups.”

While Turkey says it is allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, some government critics have accused Erdogan and his inner circle of turning a blind eye to some of the terrorist group’s activities.

Turkey Blocks, a watchdog group that monitors Turkey’s crackdowns on Internet access, said Saturday that it has verified Wikipedia’s blockage. Attempts to access the site from within Turkey result in a 404 error message.

The blockage is the latest example of the Turkish government’s crackdown of opposition voices and critics.

Erdogan has targeted political opponents and media outlets, ordering the closure of dozens of critical news outlets and jailing more than 200 reporters. Tens of thousands more have been jailed or fired from their jobs for criticizing the government.

The government has shut off access to other websites in the past.

In March 2014, the government ordered that access to Twitter and YouTube be blocked because the sites refused to remove links to stories that were unfavorable to the regime.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales condemned the Turkish government’s move.

“Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you and fight for this right,” he said on Twitter.

Erdogan will meet with President Trump in Washington, D.C. next month. Trump drew criticism following Turkey’s referendum for congratulating Erdogan during a phone call even though election monitoring groups voiced concerns about potential vote tampering.

The story has been updated to note that Jimmy Wales is founder of Wikipedia.

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