Turkey Adds Wikileaks to a Long List of Blocked Websites

Cartoon rendering of Erdogan riding an email into a pillar of democracy. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff/Wikileaks.

Cartoon rendering of Erdogan riding an email into a pillar of democracy. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff/Wikileaks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn't mind sharing pictures from his daughter's wedding or from his various visits and meetings with international leaders.

But he does seem to mind when his emails as well as thousands of other internal emails sent and received within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) make it into public eye.

Shortly after Wikileaks released 294,548 such emails into the public, the site was blocked countrywide.

The announcement of the leak read as follows:

Today, 11pm Anakara Time, WikiLeaks releases part one of the AKP Emails. AKP, or the Justice & Development Party, is the ruling party of Turkey and is the political force behind the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Part one of the series covers 762 mail boxes beginning with ‘A’ through to ‘I’ containing 294,548 email bodies together with many thousands of attached files. The emails come from “akparti.org.tr”, the AKP's primary domain. The most recent was sent on July 6, 2016. The oldest dates back to 2010. It should be noted that emails associated with the domain are mostly used for dealing with the world, as opposed to the most sensitive internal matters.

The material was obtained a week before the attempted coup. However, WikiLeaks has moved forward its publication schedule in response to the government's post-coup purges. We have verified the material and the source, who is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state.

A Turkish official told Al Jazeera that their primary motive in blocking the website was to bar local access to sensitive information, such as the personal contact data of public officials, and of private citizens who had emailed government agencies.

It is not difficult to imagine that Erdogan was also seeking to block public access to his own communications with this move.

The government has developed a reputation as one of the world's most block-happy, making regular requests to Facebook and Twitter to suspend anti-AKP and Erdogan accounts.

In the last three or so years the space for independent media in the country has shrunk markedly, with pro-opposition papers and media delving into the conflict in the Kurdish-speaking east teetering on the brink of extinction.

But the relative value of the leak in Turkey's current context is still being questioned by Turkish netizens.

Lack of interest in the leaks may also be due to the fact that many people are still struggling to make sense of happenings in Turkey after the drama of the failed military coup.

Not to mention the time and patience it takes to parse through 294,548 apparently unremarkable emails.


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