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Authorities block access to online magazine

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the haste with which the authorities blocked access to the online magazine Hetta on 29 June 2010, without waiting until its editor had been formally notified by an appeal court that his appeal against its suspension has been rejected.

"The authorities are using illegal means to achieve their ends," Reporters Without Borders said. "From the outset, the judicial proceedings seem to have been orchestrated with the aim of intimidating and silencing independent journalists. This was clearly not sufficient and now the website is being censored in violation of the presumption of innocence. We urge the authorities to restore access to the website and we reiterate our call for this conviction to be overturned."

The website has been blocked by the Internet Service Provider Etisalat in response to a request it received from the public prosecutor's office. The request was sent before Hetta's editor had received the details of the appeal court's decision, which he needs in order to file a new appeal.

The public prosecutor's official should legally have addressed its letter to both Hetta and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the agency responsible for supervising execution of the court order suspending publications by Hetta for one month. The court did not tell the authorities to block access to the website.

Hetta is currently inaccessible only to those connecting to the Internet via Etisalat and can still be accessed via Du Corporation, Etisalat's main rival.

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