Egypt adds media watchdog to blocked websites list

#EgyptTurmoil

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle also said Arabic-language news website it operates has been blocked

Egyptian photojournalists during a demonstration outside the Shura council in Cairo *(AFP)
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Last update: 
Friday 18 August 2017 16:32 UTC
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Egypt has blocked access to the website of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders adding RSF to a growing list of restricted online sites in the North African country.

The Paris-based group said Thursday its website was blocked on 14 August, shortly after it had issued a statement condemning the ongoing detention of Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid.

The site is blocked from all ISPs there including Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat and state-owned Tedata, RSF said in a statement.

"This is the first time that the RSF site has been blocked in Egypt,” said Alexandra El Khazen, head of RSF’s Middle East desk.

“This extensive digital blackout in Egypt is not just a grave attack on freedom of information. It [is] also indicative of a fear on the part of the regime that an informed public could pose a threat to its stability.”

The group noted that the site was blocked not long after it uploaded a story saying that photojournalist had just marked four years of what RSF called "illegal and arbitrary" detention.

Meanwhile, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle also said on Thursday that an Arabic-language news and culture website it operates has been blocked in Egypt.

A spokesman for Deutsche Welle said the broadcaster received initial reports earlier in the week that the site, qantara.de , was unavailable to Egyptian internet users.

Christoph Jumpelt told The Associated Press that after conducting tests, Deutsche Welle concluded that the problem wasn’t just a technical glitch.

Qantara, which is also available in English and German, is intended as a platform for dialogue with the Islamic world. It has received funding from Germany’s Foreign Ministry.

Deutsche Welle said it was informed by the chairman of the media committee of Egypt’s parliament that the government is in the process of registering and verifying sites that deal with Egyptian issues.

Egypt has blocked more than 100 websites since May, including media sites seen as critical of the government.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused former army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of stifling dissent.

In the 2017 press freedom index published by MSF, Egypt ranked 161st out of 180 countries.