Istanbul, August 29, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Turkish authorities to reverse their recent decision to block access to the Turkish-language website of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America.
“Turkish authorities’ relentless attempts to control the flow of news and information in the country have led to yet another court order blocking access to Voice of America’s Turkish website,” said Özgür Öğret, CPJ’s Turkey representative. “Authorities must make peace with the idea of a free press in Turkey and allow both local and foreign media to distribute news freely. All restrictions targeting media outlets should be ended without delay.”
On August 22, an Ankara court granted a request to block VOA from the Radio and Television Supreme Council, the government telecommunications regulator known as RTÜK, citing alleged unpaid licensing fees. The court gave VOA a 72-hour deadline to obtain a license, and then blocked the outlet on Monday, August 28.
On Tuesday, CPJ’s attempts to access VOA’s Turkish-language website from within Turkey failed without a VPN. The broadcaster’s English website remains accessible.
CPJ’s email to RTÜK did not receive a reply. VOA reported that it is possible to appeal the ruling, but did not say whether it planned to do so.
VOA’s Turkish-language website, voaturkce.com, was launched at a new address after the outlet’s previous websites were blocked last year.
In February 2022, RTÜK ordered VOA and two other foreign outlets to apply for broadcast licenses or face blocks, leading to a series of blocks on several of the VOA’s websites in July 2022 after the outlet did not comply.