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Court says Turkey's Wikipedia ban violates freedom of expression and orders it to be lifted

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on Dec. 1, 2006.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on Dec. 1, 2006.   -  
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STEVE NESIUS
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Turkey's top court ruled on Thursday that the government's ongoing ban on Wikipedia violates freedom of expression.

The Constitutional Court also ordered that the online encyclopedia be made available to Turkish users again.

Wikipedia was banned in Turkey in April 2017 with Ankara decrying entries that stated that the Turkish state had supported terrorist organisations including the so-called Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. The government used a law passed three years prior which enables it to block websites it deems to pose a national security threat.

The website had refused to remove the content, describing it as censorship.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, wrote in a statement: "We join the people of Turkey, and the millions of readers and volunteers who rely on Wikipedia around the world, to welcome this important recognition for universal access to knowledge."

"The legality of the access ban is currently being considered by the European Court of Human Rights. That case was brought in May 2019, and has been granted priority status by the Court, effectively expediting it. The Turkish Government is due to provide its written observations in the case in January," it went on.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales reacted to the ruling on Twitter, writing: "Welcome back, Turkey!"

Christophe Deloire, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders, welcomed the ruling.

"A highly positive decision in a country where so many journalists are jailed in 'visible prisons', whereas the public is sometimes jailed in technological 'invisible prisons'," he wrote on Twitter.

The Anadolu news agency reported that the justices voted 10-6 in favour of Wikipedia.

There was no immediate comment from the government and it was not immediately clear when access to the website would be restored.

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