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Unions condemn blocking of leading news websites in three Arab countries.

8 January 2016

The NUJ has joined forces with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), to condemn the blocking of news web sites al-Araby al-Jadeed and its English counterpart, The New Arab, by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

Journalists say their sites were first jammed by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Media on 22 December  and then by the UAE and Egypt.

The editors of the two sites said they had received no explanation for these interferences in press freedom.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“This is a serious attack on press freedom and an assault on the news organisation's democratic right to report the news and provide its readers with information. The international community must make loud and clear its opposition to the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. This heavy-handed censorship must not be allowed to continue.”

Abdulrahman Elshayyal, CEO of al-Araby al-Jadeed and The New Arab, said:

“The blocking of these websites goes against the company’s principles of supporting democracy, human rights and liberty, as well as the notion of press freedom. … We are at a loss to identify which, if any, stories may have led to this decision – it is possible that our editorial line, which is pro-democracy and pro-freedom of speech, just wasn't to their liking.”

However, would-be readers in north Africa and the Middle East can access the sites using proxy servers.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:

“The blocking of this news web site with no proper explanation is another blow to press freedom in the region. It curbs citizens’ rights to have access to diverse sources of information. We call on governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt to immediately lift this ban.”

Tags: , international, ifj, al-Araby al-Jadeed, The New Arab, egypt, saudi arabia, UEA, press freedom, blocking