Independent Turkish website blocked in Turkey

Access to the Turkish website of the UK-based newspaper The Independent has been blocked in Turkey, Aydınlık newspaper said on Sunday.

Users trying to visit Independent Turkish’s website in Turkey encounter a message from the country’s Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) that says access has been blocked due to administrative measures. 

The site was launched in April 2019, with a licence agreement signed between Independent Digital News & Media Limited, owned by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev, and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which owns all rights on the Independent Turkish news site.

The block could be a retaliatory move by the Turkish authorities as it comes a few days after Saudi Arabia blocked Turkish state media outlets. 

The Saudi Arabian government banned access to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency and broadcaster TRT’s Arabic website, Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.

Anadolu said that users trying to access the site encounter a message that reads: “This website violates the rules of the Information Ministry.”

Meanwhile, Okaz newspaper, a leading Saudi newspaper, suggested Saudi Arabia should “take the battle to Turkish lands” by funding Turkish language news outlet projects that are aligned with the kingdom's perspective. 

Turkey’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has seen heightened tension over the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi killing, which took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the two countries’ disagreement over regional politics, including in Libya and Yemen. Most recently, Turkey has accused Saudi Arabia of failing to act responsibly in the coronavirus pandemic as thousands of pilgrims visited the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

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