On Saturday morning, Turkish residents who tried to access Wikipedia were met with a loading icon and a server time-out message. The block is one of many which Turkey has imposed on anti-government and social media sites. The Turkish #Communications Ministry said in an email statement on Saturday that the block of Wikipedia was due to the site being part of a "coordinated smear campaign."

Monitoring group Turkey Blocks said that the block is affecting all language editions of Wikipedia. They determined that the block is similar to the Turkish government's use of internet filters to censor other online content.

Articles linked Turkey to terror groups

The statement from the ministry said that the Turkish government blocked Wikipedia after the online site did not respond to requests to remove content and articles by writers, saying that they spread lies linking Turkey with militant terrorist groups.

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The Turkish Communications ministry said in the email statement, “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.”

Wikipedia's Founder, Jimmy Wales stated on Twitter that "access to information is a fundamental human right." The tweet further stated that he stood by the Turkish people to fight for this right.

Turkey blocking websites not a new thing

According to BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen, Turkish authorities frequently block websites, especially social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and anti-government websites.

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He further stated that critics say that the blocking of access is consistent with Turkey's repression of free speech, claiming that over 50% of all requests to Twitter to remove content were from the Turkish communications ministry. Turkey currently ranks 155 of 180 in the watchdog Reporters without Borders press freedom index. The higher the ranking, the higher the country's repression of journalistic freedom.

Wikipedia writes article about Turkish block

Ironically, not long after the Turkish block, a post on Wikipedia called "2017 block of Wikipedia in Turkey" appeared on their site. The article details the incident and cites the Turkish Communication Ministry statement, along with content from news agencies. A note at the top of the page was added, saying that the page is marked to be deleted in accordance with Wikipedia's policy.