ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Wednesday lifted its more than two-year ban on accessing Wikipedia, weeks after the country’s highest court ruled that the block violated freedom of expression.
Turkey blocked Wikipedia in April 2017, accusing it of being part of a “smear campaign” against the country, after the website refused to remove content that allegedly portrayed Turkey as supporting the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations.
Access resumed Wednesday, hours after Turkey’s Official Gazette published details of last month’s Constitutional ‘s Court ruling in favor of Wikipedia.
Access to the website was blocked under a law that allows the government to ban websites that it deems to pose a national security threat.
Wikipedia had 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.
Turkey has a poor record on censorship and suppression of free speech, which intensified following a failed military coup in 2016 against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from government jobs and thousands of media organizations or civil society groups were shut in a clampdown in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
Access from Turkey to tens of thousands of other websites remain blocked. In 2008, Turkey prevented access to YouTube for two years over videos insulting the Turkish republic’s founding leader. Twitter, meanwhile, says it receives more requests for content removal from Turkey than from other countries.
Many Turks however, have found ways to circumvent the ban on Wikipedia and other blocked websites.