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Yemeni Journalists Syndicate condemns blocking of website

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by opposition Yemeni Alliance for Reform newspaper Al-Sahwah website on 21 January

["Journalists: The blocking of Yemen Portal Net is a flagrant violation of both the freedom of the press and speech" - An Unattributed "exclusive" report.]

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate [YJS] has described the blocking of Yemeni Internet surfers from using the search engine "Yemen Portal Net" as a flagrant violation of both the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, and a violation of the people's right to knowledge and perusal of different viewpoints which is guaranteed by law.

In a press release of which Al-Sahwah Net has received a copy, the syndicate expressed its regret over the blocking of the portal and condemned at the same time any measure that might violate press freedom in Yemen.

The Syndicate stressed, furthermore, the need to respect the law, and that the courts should have the final word on matters related to the freedom of speech. It also urged relevant authorities to stop immediately the blocking the site.

! For his part, engineer Walid al-Saqqaf, general manager for the search engine "Yemen Portal Net" which is the first news search engine of its kind in Yemen, said blocking Yemeni Internet surfers from using the portal is against the regime's past and present pledges to consolidate the principles of freedom in Yemen.

In a statement to the press of which Al-Sahwah Net has received a copy, Al-Saqqaf urged bodies concerned with the media, communications, human rights, and democracy issues in Yemen to oppose firmly "these practices that tarnish Yemen and our democratic experience."

Addressing the YJS, Al-Saqqaf said in his statement: "Without warning, the search engine 'Yemen Portal Net' was blocked on Saturday evening 19 January 2007 [as published]. After investigations we found out that the site was only blocked in Yemen; surfers outside Yemen are not affected and still browsing the yemenportal.net web site. Surfers inside Yemen, however, can only visit the site by ! using the following alternative web site: yemen.arabia.net."

Al- Saqqaf added: We contacted the concerned authorities and told them that we could not find anything technically wrong with the site. We asked them why the site had been blocked but they denied any knowledge that either this site or any other site had been blocked. This contrary to the advice we have received from the technicians and experts who assured us that the blocking could only be done by an Internet provider from inside Yemen.

Al-Saqqaf said the blocking of the portal would undermine the availability of approved media sources used by thousands of surfers in Yemen who rely on the site, which collects and posts Yemeni items from other Yemeni news sites as an engine for their information.

It is worth mentioning here that the blocking of the portal took place in the wake of its appeal to hold a get-together meeting for all the representatives and staff of the Yemeni news sites on Tuesday 22 January at the head offices of "Yemen Times newspaper" in Sanaa. The me! eting, which is the first of its kind, is due to discuss the recent blocking of a number of Yemeni web sites as well as cooperation between the people working for web sites, and between them and journalists in general.

Source: Al-Sahwah website, Sanaa, in Arabic 21 Jan 08



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