Access to nine more websites has been blocked in Egypt according to the Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), bringing the total number of blocked websites to 54. Medium, Sasapost, the Tehran-based Al-Alam news network, Turk Press, Arab Turkey, Akhbar Turkiya and Akhbar Al-Aalam are the most recent additions to the list of restricted websites.
The exact time the block was implemented is undetectable, but AFTE researcher Mohamed Taher told Mada Masr that it was first noticed on Saturday. He added that AFTE used the Open Observatory of Network Interference tool to confirm that access to the above websites has been blocked inside Egypt.
It was announced on Sunday night that access to Independent news websites El Badil and Al-Bedaiah, among others, are unreachable for Egyptian users. Khaled al-Balshy, editor-in-chief of the privately owned Al-Bedaiah newspaper confirmed to Mada Masr that their team is unable to access the website.
Several websites were blocked on May 24 by an unknown executive authority, including Mada Masr, Al-Mesryoon, Masr Al-Arabiya and Al-Borsa.
Sources stated that this was a response to sites publishing content that “supports terrorism and extremism and deliberately spreads lies.” However, the Egyptian government has not issued an official statement regarding the blocks.
According to a statement issued by AFTE on June 4, “Most of the blocked sites are news websites, which constitutes a clear attack on the media, and contradicts Article 57 of the Constitution.”
In response, several of the sites submitted an official complaint to the prosecutor general at the start of June and appointed a unified group of defense lawyers. Two members of Parliament also submitted official memos about the block to Parliament.
Head of the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, Makram Mohammed Ahmed, told the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that the owners of Al-Borsa, Daily News Egypt and Al-Mesryoon have had their assets confiscated through a committee tasked with tracing the finances of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. He said this is likely “a judicial order that the council has no authority over.”
Ahmed also announced the formation of a committee within the council to address the legal status of Mada Masr, Masr Al-Arabiya and Cairo Portal, which is expected to meet on Sunday.