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Another video-sharing website blocked by authorities; YouTube still inaccessible

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the stubborn insistence of the Turkish authorities in censoring video-sharing websites. After blocking access to YouTube ( http://youtube.com ) on 5 May 2008, the authorities blocked the Paris-based Dailymotion ( http://www.dailymotion.com ) on 2 August as well.

"The two most popular video-sharing sites in Turkey are now inaccessible," the press freedom organisation said. "This is a serious violation of free speech and freedom of information. We call on the authorities to restore access to these websites and remove only the videos that are the subject of judicial orders."

An Ankara criminal court ordered the blocking of YouTube on 5 May on the grounds that it had not obtained a licence from the Turkish authorities. For the blocking to be lifted, YouTube had to be formally registered and have legal representation in Turkey by 23 July. YouTube insists that it took all the necessary steps but the authorities said it failed to comply with certain conditions and therefore it continues to be blocked.

Transport minister Binali Yildirim said YouTube was still blocked because those responsible for the site refused to cooperate with the Internet regulatory authority, Internet Iletisim Baskanligi, an offshoot of the Telecommunications Council that was founded in November 2007.

"The conditions imposed on YouTube are arbitrary and show that the authorities want to control the Internet and those who create it," Reporters Without Borders said. "If a site has a local representation, it makes it easier for the Turkish judicial authorities to enforce the sanctions they are fond of imposing. This is unacceptable."

The Internet security authority, Bilgi Ihbar Merkezi ( http://www.ihbarweb.org.tr/index.html ), combats online paedophilia, incitement of drug use, sale of dangerous health products, pornography, gambling, incitement of suicide and insulting the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the Turkish republic in 1923 (Law 5651).

Access to YouTube was blocked on 6 March 2007 because of a video deemed to be insulting towards Atatürk.

Two websites that defend free expression - http://www.antenna-tr.org and http://www.ortakpayda.org - were meanwhile hacked on 24 July. The attack was claimed by members of an ultra-nationalist group called "Atabeyler."

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