The website of Russian state news agency Sputnik was "temporarily" blocked in Turkey by the latter's Telecommunications Department, Sputnik said Friday. The news agency's bureau chief in Turkey, Tural Kerimov, said that the Turkish government did not notify the agency about the decision ahead of time.
"We made the decision to block the site and the case has been sent to court. This procedure is expressed in the law, according to which a site is first blocked if there is some sort of information on it that contradicts the law, and then the case is sent to court, which will make a final decision to either reopen the site or to keep it closed," a Turkish Telecommunications Department source told RIA Novosti, according to Sputnik.
The abrupt blocking of Sputnik could further strain relations between Ankara and Moscow after a Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber in November last year.
“This morning the blocking of the site was confirmed. According to a representative from Turkey’s Telecommunications Department, they are not obliged to warn anyone when closing a site,” Sputnik's Kerimov said, in a statement. "We received no notifications, warnings or other messages from the competent authorities. No communications have been received since the blocking."
In January 2015, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other members of the cabinet received the right to block any website without a court order. The government could reportedly ask the Telecommunications Department also to delete contents from any number of websites within four hours of receiving a notice, citing “national security, protection of social order, or for the prevention of crime.”
"There is no access to sputniknews.com and subdomains from Turkey. We've sent a letter to the regulatory agency asking for the reasons. We were not expecting a ban at all," Mahir Boztepe, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik in Turkey, told Reuters.