The Ankara court rules to block access to 135 web sources, including Gazete Fersude, ETHA and website monitoring Gezi trial, upon complaint from Gendarmerie Command
The Ankara 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace has ruled for access to a total of 136 websites, web pages and social media accounts, including the entire website of independent news portal bianet to be blocked. Details pertaining to the court decision that were obtained by bianet’s lawyer later revealed that bianet.org was erroneously included in the list of URLs to be blocked although decision remains in effect for 135 other web addresses.
Among the websites blocked by the decision are those of news portal Gazete Fersude and Etkin News Agency (ETHA). The website geziyisavunuyoruz.org, which follows the trial of Osman Kavala and 15 others facing the charge of “attempting the overthrow the government” for their involvement in the Gezi protests, is also among those that were blocked for allegedly violating Turkey’s Internet law.
The ruling dated 16 July 2019 was rendered in response to a complaint submitted on the same day by the Gendarmerie Command that claimed that the mentioned sites violated Article 8/A of the Law No. 5651, which covers online publication and cyber-crimes.
Article 8/A, which was incorporated in 2015 into Law No. 5651, allows judges to order removal of content or block access on one or more of the following grounds: to protect the right of life or security of life and property, to protect national security and public order, to prevent the commission of a crime, or to protect public health.
Court documents obtained on 7 August by bianet’s lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu revealed that the complainant Gendarmerie Command had applied to the Ankara 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace on 17 July, stating that bianet.org was erroneously included in the list and requesting that the court decision be revised accordingly. The court, in response, issued a decision saying the order to block access to bianet.org was removed while the decision remains valid for the remaining 135 web URLs.
In remarks published by bianet, bianet’s lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu said neither of the court decisions was communicated. Eyüboğlu also criticized the fact that 135 web sources were blocked by the court order. “Withdrawal of this unfair and unfounded decision for bianet does not of course eliminate the unlawfulness and the massive and unjust interference with freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right to access information,” Eyüboğlu said. “This decision should be rescinded in its entirety.”
Access to ETHA’s website etha10.com.tr, geziyisavunuyoruz.org and Gazete Fersude’s website gazetefersude.com were already blocked under decision of the Ankara 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace. Among the 136 Internet sources that the court ordered banned are websites and social media accounts including numerous Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest pages.