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Top Turkey court lifts Wikipedia ban

Turkey's two-and-a-half year block on access to digital encyclopedia Wikipedia has been overturned by the country's Constitutional Court, which has published a detailed ruling on Wednesday in the Official Gazette.
Top Turkey court lifts Wikipedia ban

The ban on access to Wikipedia, in all its languages, had been in place since 2017 over entries on the platform that linked Turkey to terror organisations, Efe news reported.

According to the ruling issued by the Constitutional Court on December 26, the block on access to Wikipedia was a violation of human rights.

At the time of the ruling, Katherine Maher CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that runs the free digital encyclopedia, said in a statement: "Today's decision from the Turkish Constitutional Court is an important step for the right to knowledge.

"The country's highest court has taken a stand in favour of freedom of expression and access to information for the people of Turkey, setting a precedent for countries around the world.

"We hope access will be restored at the soonest in light of this decision.

"At Wikimedia, we remain committed to ensuring everyone, everywhere has the right to freely access information."

Authorities are expected to restore access to the website in the next few hours in compliance with the ruling of the high court.

The Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority imposed an access block to Wikipedia in April 2017 after unsuccessfully demanding the website to remove entries that linked the Turkish governments to Islamic State militias in Syria.

Wikipedia refused to intervene in the content of the articles, which are compiled collaboratively by a huge number of often anonymous and unpaid writers.

Turkish law allows the government to block web pages that it considers obscene or a threat to national security.

A ruling from an Ankara court at the time backed the move to block access to Wikipedia.

But the Wikimedia Foundation and the Constitutional ruling has now overturned it, and the ban is now being considered by the European Court of Human Rights.

Wikimedia brought the case to the ECHR in May 2019 and it has been granted priority status by the court, Wikimedia has said.

The Turkish government is expected to submit its written observations on the case this month.

( With inputs from IANS )

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