Earlier this morning (Aug 20, GMT +7), I logged in to my WordPress dashboard — and, suddenly, found this post announced by Matt on wordpress.com blog. The detail’s out there, though, so I won’t talk much about it — but, bottom line, it was about Turkish officials setting up firewall over whole wordpress.com domain. It is interesting to note that Turkey’s prominent figure of Adnan Oktar (a.k.a Harun Yahya), reportedly, was the one setting up a claim of defamations by some WP bloggers — which then resulted in legal decision by Turkish Judicial Court; thus allowing the forcing of the firewall aforementioned.
Even so, putting some details aside, I’d only like to highlight the facts that
(1) Mr. Oktar has been feeling defamed by some WP bloggers;
(2) The Turkish law granted his claim, thus produced decisions as stated by the attorney’s letter as follows:
So we have become obliged to apply to Turkish judicial courts to stop this defamation executed through your services. By the decision of Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195, access to WordPress.com has been blocked in Turkey.
(3) As a result of (2), connection to WP.com from the particular country has been completely blocked
(4) It is also reported that Mr. Oktar’s attorney asked WP.com to dismiss those blogs responsible in defaming his client. Here’s the excerpt:
WE DEMAND YOU TO REMOVE AND PROHIBIT ANY BLOGS IN YOUR SITE THAT CONTAIN MY CLIENT’S NAME ADNAN OKTAR OR HIS PEN NAME HARUN YAHYA OR VARIOUS COMBINATION OF THESE 4 NAMES.
Of all things, I must emphasize that I’m NOT going to criticize Turkey’s law, since it’s a sovereign country whose system of law I should respect. In this case, it interests me more to write on how it comes between Mr. Oktar and WP.com.
At least, I have few wonderings need to be answered concerning this incident:
(1) Who is Adnan Oktar? I mean, aside of his pen-name Harun Yahya and his works in promoting his kind-of-Creationism, so that he can have the whole country getting blocked to WP.com access?
(2) Does it make sense to disconnect millions people in a country from around-1-million-powered blog hosting, just because few bloggers criticize him? I mean, there are bloggers from many nations hosted in WP.com; and Turkey is only one of those nations. Say that number of the bloggers who criticizes Mr. Oktar can be assumed; how many percent/permile are they from the whole WP.com blogs which gets blocked?
(3) If I don’t mistake it, WP.com has their own Terms of Service which governs kind-of lawsuit that was thought to be probable. In point 15,
[...] Except to the extent applicable law, if any, provides otherwise, this Agreement, any access to or use of the Website will be governed by the laws of the state of California, U.S.A., excluding its conflict of law provisions, and the proper venue for any disputes arising out of or relating to any of the same will be the state and federal courts located in San Francisco County, California. [...]
Which, as I see it, states that WP.com doesn’t have to bow to any legal action based on any laws except to that of the state of California, as long as the law is applicable/not stated as otherwise.
Does Turkish Judicial Court decision granted to Mr. Oktar warrant the inapplicability of that condition?
(4) The essence of blog is the freedom-of-speech. Since the case is about defamation, wouldn’t it be more elegant for Mr. Oktar to reply them, from his point-of-view, in his own site? Please note that I’m NOT saying that resolving through the court is a bad choice — I just suggest a more elegant way in my opinion.
(5) And, on top of all; is it alright for Turkish bloggers to keep getting blocked like this? I personally don’t think so, since blogs aren’t always about critics-and-defamations as suggested. There are people who blogs to write on their own about themselves and other things; thus unrelated to the main topic here.
Well, at least those are what I wonder from the entire case. Anybody can help me understanding those?
I’d also like to send my sympathy to the Turkish WP.com bloggers who get firewalled. Hope the ban will be lifted soon.
Comments are welcome in English and/or Indonesian. (English is preferred, though)