Turkey bans 135 independent news sites

Turkey bans 135 independent news sites

PanARMENIAN.Net - A court in Turkey has banned 135 news websites and social media accounts, Al-Monitor says.

The court order was published widely in the Turkish press on Wednesday, August 7, sparking rebukes from media organizations and free speech advocates who claim the space for the nation’s oppositional voices has been steadily shrinking in recent years.

The ban comes after a state-funded institution published a report accusing foreign media outlets of bias in their Turkish-language coverage, and a new law was enacted requiring state-issued licenses from web streaming services and online news broadcasters operating in the country.

“These procedures seem to contribute to a major policy, to a major attempt to destroy the pluralistic nature of the media and civil society organizations,” Erol Onderoglu, the Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders, told Al-Monitor.

The Turkish Ministry of Justice did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Dated July 16, the court order blocks the websites and social media accounts of organizations and individuals critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party under Article 8a of Law no. 5651, which defends “the right to life, national security and protection of public order.”

Among individual Twitter accounts listed in the ban is that of Oya Ersoy, a member of parliament representing Istanbul for the Peoples’ Democratic Party. Ersoy said employing the article against media outlets and dissident voices is unconstitutional, and she has already opened legal proceedings against the court order.

“This whole thing is dictatorship, it’s fascism, there’s no other way to define it,” Ersoy told Al-Monitor. “This is a violation of the constitution, not just because of freedom of speech, but also because I have parliamentary immunity. My accounts cannot be silenced this way.”

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