Wikipedia, which was blocked in Turkey two weeks ago, has been warned that its content gives the impression that Ankara supports terrorist organisations.
Turkey was accused of censorship after the move. Its telecommunications watchdog justified the decision under a law allowing websites to be banned if they are deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
On Thursday Turkey’s transport minister elaborated on the decision as he spoke to broadcaster NTV.
“There are many issues that disturb us but most importantly, we are very disturbed by the fact that Turkey is mentioned together with terrorist organisations and the fact that their publications include partial content on the perception that Turkey supports terrorist organisations,” Ahmet Arslan said.
Local media have said the blocking was prompted by entries accusing Turkey of links to Islamist militant groups. After saying that Wikipedia had then refused to correct the “wrong information” with “accurate information” supplied by the government, the minister then appeared to offer the online encyclopaedia a way out: beginning by changing its content.
“We want to have an interlocutor here and we want to them to pay the appropriate tax to Turkey within our tax legislation by opening an office. They make an income from their publications in Turkey so we want them to be eligible to pay tax by opening an office here. This is another part of the problem,” Arslan went on.
“Arslan demanded Wikipedia open a representative office in Turkey and be eligible to pay tax” tax over what? Wikipedia is a non-profit org.. https://t.co/hp9Y8KoilR— Piero Castellano (@PieroCastellano) May 11, 2017
Earlier this week broadcaster it was reported that Wikipedia had appealed to Turkey’s Constitutional Court.
This came after a Turkish court rejected last Friday an appeal against the blocking by the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia. The court said that while freedom of speech was a fundamental right, it can be limited in cases where there is a “necessity for regulation”.
In the wake of the move against Wikipedia last month the country’s Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry accused it of running a smear campaign, in a statement to the Andalou news agency.
On the same day, the Turkish government sacked nearly 4,000 more public officials in what appeared to be the latest purge related to a failed coup last July.
It was the second such move since President Erdogan narrowly won a controversial referendum increasing his powers.
Dozens of media outlets have been closed down and tens of thousands of officials, journalists and academics have been suspended or jailed on suspicion of having links to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Erdogan of being behind the coup attempt – a charge he denies.
The president’s critics fear that Turkey under his rule is becoming increasingly authoritarian and could even be sliding into dictatorship.