23 April 2007
Court blocks access to popular website following defamation complaint
(BIANET/IFEX) - Responding to a civil complaint, an Istanbul court recently banned access to the online news source Eksisozluk ( http://www.sourtimes.org
). Adnan Oktar, a self-proclaimed religious sect leader, complained to the court that the online interactive site, where members can add and edit comments on anything, contained defamatory remarks about him.
Eyup's third court of first instance reviewed the complaint and ordered Turk Telecom - the main Internet service provider in Turkey - to close the site to public access.
Access to another news website, http://www.Superpoligon.com,
was also restricted following Oktar's complaint.
Another website, http://www.antoloji.com,
which features poetry, has also been blocked, but site moderator Cengiz Ekrem Teymur says they have not received notice from authorities on why the action has been taken.
Eksisozluk lawyer Basak Purut criticized the court order, saying, "This is a disproportional and useless pre-emption. One can reach the site via various other ways. Furthermore, we're open to such complaints and remove defamatory expressions if there is a complaint. There is no need to shut down the entire site."
Purut told reporters that site moderators had already removed the articles in question but Turk Telecom carried out the court order a day before notice of the order reached them. He appealed the order and the ban was lifted on 19 April 2007.
This is the second time Eksisozluk faces such action. In February 2006, access to the website was banned on grounds that it contained articles and comments "promoting drugs and drug use."
While draft legislation on cyber crimes is at the National Assembly for approval, the Turkish judiciary appears to lack any common approach to such cases. Experts and rights activists have criticized the legislation as a means to curb dissident views.
In a separate case, the popular video-sharing site Youtube was blocked in March following a court order after it hosted a video deemed "insulting to Ataturk", founder of modern Turkey (see IFEX alert of 9 March 2007).