WordPress blocks critical blog about Trump’s inner circle after Turkish court order from Trump’s Bayrock business partner Tevfik Arif
Earlier this week I blogged about Bayrock Group CEO Tevfik Arif’s attempts to get news reports about his 2010 arrest for human trafficking removed from the Internet.
Arif, a former Soviet commerce official, is best known for his business partnership with Donald Trump: the two were partners on the troubled Trump SoHo hotel in Manhattan, recently the subject of a criminal investigation and a lawsuit; and the doomed Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, which was sold in 2012 after the developer defaulted on a $139 million construction loan.
Tevfik Arif (centre) with Trump and former Bayrock director Felix Sater at the launch of Trump SoHo (source)
According to the Lumen Database, which collects takedown requests of online content, Arif sent multiple Turkish court orders to Google and Automattic (WordPress’ parent company) demanding the removal of sites and blogs that reported about his arrest aboard Turkey’s presidential yacht, where he was attending a private party.
During a raid of the $57 million yacht, Turkish police reportedly found “nine young girls” from Russia and the Ukraine, “a huge amount of contraceptives and a file with escort girls’ pictures and hotel receipts.”
Arif was charged and later acquitted of human trafficking, although four lesser-known businessmen were convicted.
While Google doesn’t appear to have honoured Arif’s demand, Automattic told Lumen it has taken “partial” action against a critical WordPress blog that reported about Trump’s dubious friendships and business relationships, including his partnership with Arif.
When I asked Automattic to confirm and clarify what action it had taken against the offending blog, I received the following reply from Community Guardian Francis:
Thanks for reaching out. The site has been blocked in Turkey as a result of a decision of the Turkish Access Providers’ Union. We were forced to take that step in order to avoid WordPress.com (as a whole) from being blocked in the region.
WordPress.com | Automattic
As I reported in October last year, WordPress recently updated its takedown policy to comply with Turkish censorship demands.
14 thoughts on “Arif Trumps WordPress”
Reblogged this on Floating-voter.
Interesting. I wonder why they didn’t bother to contact me? Turkey ranks only 20th in the all time hits to that blog; the post has had a mere 380 hits worldwide since it was put up.
Looks like you got right under Arif’s skin.
WordPress has been discreet about its position on Turkish censorship demands. I found out WordPress was actively blocking blogs last October when, at the request of Erdogan, they blocked a political blog featuring satirical cartoons depicting him as a tyrannical dictator: https://shootingthemessenger.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/erdogan-strikes-again/
To their credit, when I asked Automattic about this, they were open about their reasons for doing so.
Earlier this year WordPress officially updated its takedown policy: https://shootingthemessenger.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/wordpress-yields-to-erdogan/