Wikipedia is back online in Turkey after two-year ban is overturned

Turkey’s two-and-a-half-year ban on Wikipedia was lifted on Wednesday, after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled against it, according to The New York Times.

In December, the court found that the ban violated freedom of expression and ruled 10-6 that it was unconstitutional. The court’s opinion was published on Wednesday, and hours later, access to the site began to come back. By the end of the day, most of the country could access the site. The Wikimedia Foundation had appealed to the Turkish Constitutional Court back in May 2017.

“We are thrilled to be reunited with the people of Turkey,” Katherine Maher, Wikimedia’s executive director, said in a statement. “At Wikimedia we are committed to protecting everyone’s fundamental right to access information. We are excited to share this important moment with our Turkish contributor community on behalf of knowledge-seekers everywhere.”

The Turkish government banned Wikipedia in April 2017 after Wikipedia refused to remove content alleging that the Turkish government had given support to terrorist and militant groups. Turkish IP addresses were unable to visit the site in any language, and because of this, it’s seen as the tightest Wikipedia ban in the world. (Users in China can still access the site in non-Chinese languages.) Trying to access the site in Turkey would instead lead to a message saying the browser can’t connect securely to the server. During the ban, users could still access Wikipedia through a VPN.

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are often placed under short bans in Turkey. For example, in 2014, a Twitter ban was lifted in two weeks, while a YouTube ban lasted two months.

A case against the 2017 Wikipedia ban was also filed in the European Court of Human Rights in spring 2019, and it’s still pending.

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