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Turkey Blocks Access to Sputnik Website, Citing 'Administrative Measures'

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Continuing its crackdown on press freedoms, the Turkish government has blocked access to the Sputnik News Agency website.

Ankara has justified its decision by citing "administrative measures."

"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the law Nr. 5651, administration measure has been taken for this website (sputniknews.com) according to decision Nr. 490.05.01.2016.-56092 dated 14/04/2016 of the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication," reads message that appears for anyone trying to access the Turkish site.

© screenshotTurkey blocks access to Sputnik News Agency website, citing 'administrative measures'
Turkey blocks access to Sputnik News Agency website, citing 'administrative measures'   - Sputnik International
Turkey blocks access to Sputnik News Agency website, citing 'administrative measures'

Sputnik News was not notified of the Turkish government's decision ahead of time, according to Turkish bureau chief Tural Kerimov.

"We received no notifications, warnings or other messages from the competent authorities. No communications have been received since the blocking," Kerimov said.

"Access to Sputnik's website in Turkey is blocked from mobile devices and computers with no VPN."

A screen with the logo of the Sputnik international news agency - Sputnik International
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When asked for clarification of its decision, the Department of Telecommunications and Communication said "because it is already late and there are no responsible persons [available], we cannot provide comment on this issue," insisting they could only comment at a later date.

Reports of website access problems began at roughly 7:50 PM local time, and was blocked several hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin's Q&A, in which he made several statements about Russian-Turkish relations. Putin said he considers Turkey a friend, but the behavior of "individual politicians" is inadequate.

Given a hypothetical scenario in which both President Erdogan and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were drowning, Putin was asked to whom he would offer a hand. The Russian president responded that it's impossible to save someone who doesn't want saving, but that Russia is ready to assist any partner willing to accept help.

The administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a crackdown on a number of media outlets critical of the government, both internally and internationally. In 2015, 14 Turkish journalists were imprisoned. Two reporters, Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, are currently involved in a closed-door trial, having been charged with espionage for an article in which they accused the Turkish government of providing arms to terrorist groups in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) presents Turkey's highest state medal to King Salman of Saudi Arabia (C) during a ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara on April 12, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Last month, the Turkish president summoned the German ambassador over a broadcast of a satirical song about Erdogan aired on German television.

Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained ever since the downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter jet in Syrian airspace last year.

Sputnik (sputniknews.com) is a news agency and radio network with multimedia news hubs in dozens of countries. Sputnik broadcasts through its websites in over 30 languages, as well as analog and digital radio, mobile apps and social media. Sputnik newswires, available by subscription, run around the clock in English, Arabic, Spanish and Chinese.

The timing of Turkey's decision is strange given that Radio Sputnik's Listen to This program won an award from the Turkish Journalists' Association earlier this week.

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