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Turkey29 October 2008

Blogger and Blogspot “provisionally” accessible again

29.10 - Blogger and Blogspot “provisionally” accessible again

Access to Google’s two blog services, Blogger and Blogspot, was restored yesterday evening in Turkey. The court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir that had blocked them said they were being unblocked “provisionally” to enable Digitürk, the TV station that filed the original complaint about allegedly pirated video footage, to submit all the required evidence.

“The court’s decision shows that the judicial authorities sometimes block access to websites without any proof that they committed a crime,” Reporters Without Borders said. “And if there has been piracy, only the offending videos should in all fairness be withdrawn, and the sites should remain accessible.”

Blogger and Blogspot were blocked on 24th october.


28.10 - Call for Law 5651 to be amended after latest case of online censorship

Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship of Google’s blog services, Blogger and Blogspot, by a magistrate’s court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir as a result of a complaint by the Turkish TV station Digitürk. The station claims that video footage over which it has exclusive rights has been posted on blogs hosted by these services.

“The blogs on these services were suddenly closed without any warning to users and without any court summonses being issued,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This is not just about copyright and piracy. This is yet another example of how, in Turkey, entire websites are closed just because of problematic content on a single page or blog. We call for Blogger and Blogspot to be reopened. Their closure has handicapped thousands of Internet users in Turkey.”

Access to some 10 websites, including very popular ones such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Google Groups, have been blocked in the course of this year in Turkey as a result of court decisions. In most cases, access was blocked under Law 5651 on the Prevention of Crime Committed in the Information Technology Domain, which was adopted by parliament in May 2007 and took effect the following November.

This law empowers a public prosecutor to ban access to a website within 24 hours if the content is considered “liable to incite suicide, pedophilia, drug usage, obscenity or prostitution” of if it “contradicts the law of [Turkish republic founder] Atatürk.”

Article 8 of the law provides for the blocking of content contrary to Law 5816, which has been in effect since 1951 and which punishes “crimes against Atatürk.” “This article says that “when there is sufficient evidence supporting the abusive appearance of content (...) access must be blocked.” As well as “crimes against Atatürk,” Law 5651 punishes “inciting suicide” (article 84), “sexual abuse of children” (article 103), “prostitution” (article 227) and “inciting drug usage” (article 190).

Reporters Without Borders warned of the danger this law represents for online free expression when it was approved by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on 22 May 2007.

Commenting on the latest developments, Reporters Without Borders said: “All this arbitrary blocking of websites has demonstrated that this law is the main source for the deterioration in online free expression. Furthermore, ISPs are forced to do the blocking of access to sites that break this law. This makes them accomplices to censorship.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We call for Law 5651 to be amended as quickly as possible. Rather than block an entire website, only the content regarded as ‘sensitive’ should be the challenged before the courts.”

Turkey was ranked 102nd out of 173 countries in the 2008 press freedom index which Reporters Without Borders released last week.

List of websites currently blocked in Turkey


  In this country
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
12 May - Turkey
Journalist held for past two weeks on suspicion of collaborating with armed group
5 May - Turkey
YouTube completes a year of being blocked in Turkey
1 April - Turkey
Ergenekon conspirators could have been behind journalist Hrant Dink’s murder
11 March - Turkey
Journalist arrested and charged in connection with alleged Ergenekon conspiracy

in the annual report
Turkey - Annual Report 2008
Turkey - Annual report 2007
Turkey - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
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Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up
28 May - Azerbaijan
Court breaks law by refusing to release journalist on health grounds

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

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