The Saudi authorities have been blocking access to the Arabic-language news website Elaph since May 2006. Reporters Without Borders condemns this censorship of an independent news outlet and calls on the Internet Services Unit, the government agency in charge of filtering the Internet in Saudi Arabia, to put an end to the blocking.
Reporters Without Borders today called on the Saudi authorities to stop blocking Elaph, an Arabic-language news website that is very popular in the Arab world. Access to the site from within Saudi Arabia has been blocked since May 2006. “No government should be able to block access to a website without obtaining a court order first,” the press freedom said. “But this site is an independent and reliable source of news about the Arab world and we regard its blocking as an arbitrary and unjustified act of censorship.” Interviewed by the news agency Reuters yesterday, Elaph editor Sultan al-Qahtani said the blocking was put in place as a result of pressure from religious conservatives who are “against modernity.” He added: “It's a war against the future. In time, I think it's a losing battle for them - no one can fight the future.” The authorities have not explained why they are blocking the site. Elaph employs 90 journalists and gets 1.5 million visits a day. Reporters Without Borders and the Arab human rights group HRinfo wrote to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud asking him to stop censoring the site when access was previously blocked for a short while in March 2006. The job of Internet censorship in Saudi Arabia is entrusted to the Internet Services Unit, a government agency that gets its instructions from the security services. Saudi Arabia is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “13 Internet Enemies.”