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New website documenting rights abuses blocked 9 hours after launch

Only nine hours after it launched, a new website focusing on documenting rights and freedoms violations has joined the long list of blocked websites to which access is blocked on Egyptian internet service providers.

Kateb, which was launched on Sunday by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and is headed by Journalists Syndicate board member Khaled al-Balshy, was effectively blocked later that same day, according to a statement issued by the network. Balshy was formerly the editor in chief of Al-Bedaiah website, which was also blocked in June of last year.

Gamal Eid, head of ANHRI, said in the Sunday statement: “The block was not surprising. [President Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi’s regime, which is anti freedom of speech and media freedoms, has blocked 500 websites in less than a year. The speed of the blocking is the surprising factor, and it shows that a huge number of people are dedicated to monitoring and targeting the internet and independent websites.”

Access to almost 500 websites is currently blocked in Egypt, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. The blocks began with 21 websites in May 2017. At the time, the country’s official state news agency, MENA, quoted a high-level security source saying that access to 21 websites, which had disseminated “content that supports terrorism and extremism and deliberately spreads lies,” had been blocked in Egypt in accord with “relevant legal proceedings.”

Mada Masr was among the blocked websites. No state institution has claimed responsibility for the blocking.

Shortly after news broke, the Journalists Syndicate filed complaints with the Supreme Media Council, the Telecommunications Ministry and the National Telecom Regulatory Authority on behalf of the blocked websites, and Mada Masr Media filed a lawsuit case before an administrative court. The case, which requests that the identity of the body responsible for administering the block be revealed, is ongoing.

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