Istanbul, June 17, 2020 – Turkish authorities should cease trying to censor the Ozguruz radio station’s website, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, a Turkish court issued an order blocking the broadcaster’s website at the request of the Radio and Television Supreme Council, the country’s media regulator, according to news reports. The council alleged that Ozguruz was not properly registered and constituted a “pirate broadcast,” according to reports.
That order was the 20th time the outlet has been blocked, according to those news reports. It was most recently blocked on May 3, 2019, according to a report from the time.
Following the 2019 block, Ozguruz changed its website address from ozguruz19.org to ozguruz20.org, which users in Turkey were able to access until yesterday, according to those news reports. Following yesterday’s block, it changed its address to ozguruz21.org, which CPJ was able to access from Turkey today.
Ozguruz founder and chief editor Can Dündar, who runs the broadcaster from exile in Germany, wrote a column today vowing to continue efforts to evade government censorship.
“The persistent blocking of Ozguruz’s website shows that Turkish authorities are pursuing a vindictive campaign to strip Can Dündar of his audience – having already taken his freedom to live and work in his own country,” said CPJ‘s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Gulnoza Said, in New York. “Turkish authorities should stop trying to block Ozguruz, and should allow Turkish citizens to access any website they please.”
Dündar received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2016 in recognition of his fight against government harassment and prosecution on anti-state charges while working as the chief editor of opposition daily Cumhuriyet.
Ozguruz’s website was first blocked by Turkish authorities 12 hours before it first launched on January 23, 2017, as CPJ documented at the time.
CPJ emailed the Radio and Television Supreme Council for comment, but did not receive any reply.