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Lebanese newspaper's website blocked

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, July 11, 2011 - ANHRI condemns the blocking of the website of the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Akhbar" by the authorities of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, July 5. The move, which occurred after the paper covered demonstrations in Bahrain, is the latest violation by the Saudi regime against freedom of opinion, expression and the free circulation of information.

"Al-Akhbar" attracts about 8 or 9 percent of the total number of readers of online newspapers in Saudi Arabia. The site had previously been hacked late last year.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most hostile states towards the Internet and e-publishing. Online activists have been prosecuted and websites have been blocked on a regular basis. Moreover, earlier in 2011, the authorities enacted legislation suppressing online publishing through a new Internet law that gives them more power to interfere in the work of bloggers. Anyone wishing to establish a website or a blog must request prior authorization, and the license must be renewed every three years.

"The Saudi authorities only know the language of repression, censorship and confiscation; they do not engage in dialogue with their opponents. The country's support for totalitarian regimes in the Arab world is evidence of the regime's fear of impending change, especially as it does not intend to take any action to allow public freedoms in the kingdom," ANHRI said.

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