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Kılıçdaroğlu promises to remove ban on popular online forum after elections

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Users of Ekşi Sözlük, one of Turkey’s most popular social media websites, which has been banned since March, were encouraged by a campaign ad run on Monday by main opposition leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who promised to remove the ban on the platform following elections on May 14.

The initial ban imposed on the site, where users can anonymously post and discuss messages on any subject, was announced by Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK) on Feb. 21. The authority said two days later that it was imposed for the “protection of national security and public order.”

The ban was removed by a court decision on March 2 but reinstated again the following day, which led to public criticism and anger.

eksi sozluk

“This site will be accessible on May 15,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in the ad published on Ekşi Sözlük, with a photo featuring him and his party’s popular İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, who will serve as vice presidents if he is elected.

The CHP leader also said in the ad that people will be able to criticize him freely without any fear during his rule.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s main rival is current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election and is harshly criticized for cracking down on free speech in the country.

The ban on Ekşi Sözlük was not the first time the government has blocked access to popular social media platforms. Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have all been subjected to restrictions. Most recently, Twitter was blocked in the wake of the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes after the government criticized disinformation on the platform.

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