News

February 13, 2008 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Government asked to explain filtering of Yemeni Internet


Reporters Without Borders wrote to information minister Hassan Ahmed Al-Lawzi today about online filtering in Yemen after access to an alternative web address created by the news website and search engine YemenPortal (http://arabiaportal.net/yemen) was blocked by the authorities on 9 February, just as access to the original address was blocked less than a month ago. At the same time, the car of YemenPortal editor Walid Al-Saqaf was vandalised on 10 February. Saqaf says he is convinced that it was “done by the authorities following the creation of this alternative address to circumvent government censorship.” The police said they are investigating. This is the text of the letter: "Dear Minister, Reporters Without Borders is worried about the situation of the Internet in Yemen. Access to the news website and search engine YemenPortal has been blocked twice in less than a month. After it was rendered inaccessible on 19 January, its staff created an alternative web address, but this has also been blocked since 9 February. Online programmes for circumventing censorship, or “proxies,” are also inaccessible from within Yemen and several opposition websites are regularly blocked. They include al-Shoura (www.al-shora.net) and the Yemeni Council (www.al-yemen.org) and Yemen Sound (www.yemen-sound.com) discussion forums, which are among the most popular in the country. The support site for Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger who has been arrested for almost a year for using his right to online free expression, has also been inaccessible since 28 January. The new information and communication technologies seem to be subject to severe restrictions in Yemen. We learned in June 2007 that your ministry had banned several mobile phone news distribution services, such as those proposed by Nass Mobile and Bela Qoyod Mobile. The reason given was insufficient control over the SMS messages. Reporters Without Borders finds these measures to be disturbing for free expression. These new areas of expression are an opportunity for the press. We note with sadness that your ministry is making increasingly frequent use of Internet filtering to ensure that the opposition is not able to express itself. We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration. Sincerely" Robert Ménard Secretary-General The staff of YemenPortal and the free speech group MidEast Youth have decided to organise an online campaign on 15 February (http://yemenportal.net/blocked) to call for the unblocking of Yemeni websites and to question the government about online censorship. To support the Yemeni Internet users' campaign, post a banner on your website: http://digiactive.org/2008/02/11/action-alert-unblock-yemen-day/ 1 / Evolution of pages loadings, sites and Kbytes in January 2008 2 / Evolution of pages loadings, sites and Kbytes until 12 February 2008