WORDPRESS (WP) BOSS MATT Mullenweg has said in a recent interview that he would never limit the right of Turkish bloggers to express themselves. The show of defiance comes amidst the continuing “firestorm of criticism,” as Internet observers have described it, aimed at the ongoing block of WP on Turkish soil. In the interview, published online in Turkish on the Turkish Internet industry portal turk.internet.com, the 23-year-old WP founder developer estimates that there are some 20 to 30 thousand bloggers in Turkey affected by the ban. Turkish and expat bloggers, as well as their regular readers, have been greeted with the message that the entire WP site “has been suspended in accordance with [court] decision no: 2007/195,” since the private-but-monopoly Turk Telekom telephone company enforced the court order over two weeks ago. The controversial nationwide block — arriving in the wake of the ruling pro-EU and Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) recent electoral successes, in both a general and presidential election — stems from a private “defamation” lawsuit brought by Islamic cult leader Adnan Oktar. The lawyers acting on behalf of the notorious “Adnan Hodja” — no stranger himself to Turkish press headlines often ranging from sex scandals to blackmail of famous figures — have inexplicably managed to get the Turkish legal system to block all WP blogs, instead of targeting the alleged few which slander their client.
An English translation* of the Matt Mullenweg interview on turk.internet.com, by Fusun S. Nebil (first published in Turkish on Aug. 28, 2007) appears below.
turk.internet.com.: Could you give us some brief information about WordPress?
Matt Mullenweg: WordPress.com has started to get a lot of attention recently. It gets 72 million visitors to its blogs every month. The number of page views it has per month is 300 million. Its content varies, everything ranging from CNN coverage of the American presidential election to humorous sites about cats, such as http://www.icanhascheezburger.com.
t.i.c.: We know you also have Turkish bloggers. Could you tell us about them?
M.M.: We’ve got 20 to 30 thousand Turkish bloggers. Before our site was blocked, we had 12 million page views per month for the Turkish blogs. At the moment, and if the block continues, we have 250 thousand views per month.
t.i.c.: What do you think of this block?
M.M.: I think it’s very sad. Maybe US laws are different from Turkish ones, but each WordPress.com blog has its own domain. For that reason, instead of the whole site they could’ve blocked the ones relating to that law. Now they have done this, thousands of innocent bloggers are silenced as well.
t.i.c.: Are you thinking of doing anything to challenge this?
M.M.: We aren’t thinking of what we are going to do, but what we are not going to do. We are never going to limit our Turkish bloggers’ freedom of speech.
t.i.c.: And one last question. What do you think on the future of Web 2.0?
M.M.: Blogs have just started becoming popular. Especially in European and Asian countries, where every month page views are doubling. I think no free person would deny the importance of blogs.
t.i.c. Note: WordPress.com continues to be blocked because the company has no lawyers or representatives in Turkey. Due to this, there are no plans to challenge the ban as there is no one to appeal against the court ruling.
* Translation by İstanbul Despatch