Turkish anti-riot police stand guard on December 9, 2016 outside a courthouse in Istanbul. (Photo by AFP)
A Turkish court has rejected an appeal by the Wikimedia Foundation against a ruling delivered last week to block all access inside Turkey to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia.
According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the first magistrates court in Ankara on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by the foundation, which runs Wikipedia, among other sites.
On May 1, a court in Ankara backed the April 29 ban imposed by Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).
The block was reportedly imposed following Wikipedia's failure to respond to repeated requests by Turkey to remove content accusing Ankara of cooperation with several terrorist groups.
The head of Turkey's communications agency, Omer Fatih Sayan, said on Wednesday that the ban would continue to be enforced until the online encyclopedia followed court rulings ordering it to remove the anti-government content that Ankara deemed to be false.
Istanbul's municipality officials also canceled on May 2 an invitation sent to Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, to attend the World Cities Expo, a major international conference to be held in the city on May 15-18.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, poses for a portrait in Mexico City, July 16, 2015. (Photo by AP)
Wales had reacted to the ban on April 29, saying, "Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you to fight for this right."
The block angered freedom of information activists who accuse Ankara of slapping bans on websites and social media with alarming regularity.
Over the past years, Turkey has become notorious for provisionally blocking access to popular sites, including Facebook and Twitter, in the wake of major events such as mass protests or militant attacks.
Ankara has also been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups, who were believed to have played a role in a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.
Over 40,000 people have been arrested and 120,000 others sacked or suspended from a wide range of professions, including soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants, in the wake of the coup attempt.

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