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Another website is blocked in Egypt, taking total to 64

Egyptian authorities banned access to another website, international polling site Avaaz, on Tuesday, bringing the total number of sites blocked in Egypt to 64.

Five websites offering VPN services, including TunnelBear, CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, TigerVPN and ZenVPN were blocked on Monday, along with news website Yanair Gate.

The number of VPN users in Egypt has risen in recent weeks following a government campaign to block news websites that began three weeks ago.

On Sunday, two more independent news websites Al-Bedaiah and El Badil were blocked, along with three websites operating from Qatar and Turkey.

Egyptian authorities released an initial list of blocked news websites, including our own site Mada Masr and Masr al-Arabiya. Other websites, including Al-Borsa and Daily News Egypt were later added to the list.

Amnesty International condemned the blockage of news websites in Egypt in a statement on Tuesday, criticizing the use of protecting national security as a justification for the continued repression of media freedoms.

“The latest clampdown on digital media is further evidence of Egypt’s age-old police state tactics in motion. Even in the darkest days of the repressive Mubarak era the authorities didn’t cut off access to all independent news sites,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns director.

However, head of the Media Personnel Syndicate Hamdy al-Kounayessi said in press remarks on Tuesday that the syndicate supports the blocking of online news websites. This is “not a new thing, or a restriction of freedoms; all countries take necessary measures to protect national security when they feel that there are threats posed by media.”

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