Following the failed coup in Turkey, the government has become engaged in an online war with WikiLeaks having now blocked access to the website within the country.
WikiLeaks on Tuesday (19 July) released 300,000 emails and 500,000 documents relating to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his office, promising it would expose the country leader and its political power structure.
In preparation, WikiLeaks warned Turkish Twitter followers that such a release was likely to stir a hornet’s nest within the country’s government and prompt a digital response.
“Get ready for a fight as we release 100,000+ docs on Turkey’s political power structure,” it tweeted.
As predicted, WikiLeaks soon announced afterwards that it had suffered a “sustained attack” against its digital infrastructure and, while the source of the attack could not be determined, it suggested a “Turkish state power faction or its allies”.
Now, in another prediction turned true, Turkey has blocked access to WikiLeaks within its borders, preventing its citizens from reading any of the documents published on the whistleblower site, according to Reuters.
Erdogan government officially orders WikiLeaks to be blocked after publishing 300k emails from his party, AKP pic.twitter.com/spQfv9XFfk
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 20, 2016
Announcing the decision, Turkey’s communications authority said that the blocking of the site follows an “administrative measure” with no indication when, or if, it will lift access to WikiLeaks.
Again, WikiLeaks pre-empted any potential blocking of the site by issuing a call for people within Turkey to run IP-masking software, or to help others to set it up using services such as TorBrowser.
We ask that Turks are ready with censorship bypassing systems such as TorBrowser and uTorrent (2/3)
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016
Turkey has history of online censorship
This wouldn’t be the first time that Turkey – and, particularly Erdoğan – has closed access to particular online services or websites in response to allegations made against the president and members of his government. Last year, on a number of separate occasions, access to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were all blocked in Turkey because they were deemed to be disseminating information unworthy of sharing, to the annoyance of many of its citizens.
Meanwhile, following the failed coup that led to the deaths of over 200 people, the Turkish government has rounded up thousands of people deemed to be linked to the coup, including thousands of academics. Temporarily, all academics are not allowed leave the country, which has prompted an online petition to defend academic freedom.
Istanbul image via Shutterstock