Turkey blocks Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

Turkey blocks Deutsche Welle and Voice of America
Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

Following a court ruling by the Ankara criminal court, the websites of foreign media Deutsche Well and Voice of America have been blocked in Turkey, German media reported on 30 June. The official reason for the block is due to licensing issues.

Turkey claims that, under its new 2019 media law, Turkish-language publications must apply for a licence from the Turkish Broadcasting Council to continue operating in the country. Both DW and VOA had Turkish-language versions of their websites.

Turkey has previously faced criticism over its media censorship laws. It has considerable control over social media and blocks and censors many online websites, especially those critical of President Recep Erdoğan.

In the run-up to the 2023 presidential elections, Turkish authorities are considering introducing new “disinformation” laws, which would jail journalists for information that the government disagrees with.

Reports without borders rates Turkey poorly in terms of press liberties and freedom of expression. In its 2022 press freedom index, Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 for press freedoms.

DW and VOA previously refused to apply for Turkish media licences, which they view as an attempt to silence independent media.

Translation: Licensed media in Turkey are obliged to delete content that RTÜK deems inappropriate. This situation is unacceptable for an independent media organization. DW will take legal action against the imposed access ban

“After the local media, which is already subject to strict regulation in Turkey, this time it is the international media that are targeted. We will not give into pressure,” DW’s managing director Peter Limbourg said.

DW is now planning to take legal action against the Turkish government in order to resume its broadcasts.

Between 2016 and 2020, Turkish authorities banned over 349,000 websites, according to the Freedom of Expression Association.

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