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Website banned

(BIANET/IFEX) - Access to the http://www.sanliurfa.com website has been banned because of news relating to the deputy governor of Şanliurfa, Yildiray Malğaç, and associated reader comments. The 1st Civil Court of First Instance of Şanliurfa, in southeastern Turkey, decided to take precautionary measures and banned the site on 2 July 2010. An appeal against the access ban filed ten days later was dismissed.

The decision was based on Civil Law (No. 4721) Article 24, regarding attacks on personal rights. Court President Judge İbrahim Balkan dismissed the appeal filed by Muhammet Taşçilar reasoning that he is not the owner of the site and does not have any authority over it.

Associate Professor Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, of the Bilgi University Law School in Istanbul, evaluated the situation for BIANET: "The court's decision regarding the access ban is entirely contrary to the law. It cannot be accepted that this site, which contains political statements, is censored in an unlawful manner. Freedom of the press and the media cannot be restricted. It must not be restricted by the courts."

Akdeniz indicated that Article 9 of Law No. 5651 on Internet crimes provides a guideline on how to resolve problems relating to "personal rights". He said that the website should not have been closed down.

The censorship was brought on by an article entitled "Malğaç silent and cowering", published on the website on 25 March. The article read, "Deputy Governor Yildiray Malğaç made a statement last week. He created public confusion when he said that the TL 1.5 billion spent in the last year was met by various sources." The court decision against the website was further prompted by two reader comments, one of them written by the news site's representative, Metin Çinar, who said, "This is Mr Malğaç's dilemma, those expenditures were not met by the Social Aid Foundation, were they?" Another comment referred to an article published on 9 February, saying, "Shame on Malğaç. Mr Malğaç meddled around a lot, it will explode soon. We beg the governor, you should check the signatures under some of the tenders, they are signed by his proponents."

The other reader comment on which the decision was based was written by Ali Kiran on 23 May. He wrote, "He struggled with everybody, with the tea vendor, the manager, the governor, the press. He was harsh with people. Luckily he is leaving. Anyhow, he created this difficulty with the possibility of being remembered positively. What is written on this site is not very normal. This is what people do if you step on their feet."

Another comment, written on 24 May, said, "Mr. Governor, I am following what has been said about you on this site. You looked down on everybody. Now everybody is talking about you at the last minute. You should have been a man of the people. You became the governor. In the end, you are a human being. Our graves will be the same. I wish you luck for the place you will be going to in the other world. I hope you will not look down on people in the place where you are going to. The people are not your slaves."

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