August 24, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Two human rights activists' Twitter pages blocked

Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to learn that access to the Twitter pages of two Saudi human rights activists, Walid Abdelkhair and Khaled al-Nasser, has been blocked since last week, apparently because of the human rights content they had been posting on the micro-blogging webservice. “We condemn the blocking of these cyber-dissidents’ Twitter pages and we call for their immediate restoration,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This situation is very worrying and is symptomatic of a growing crackdown on Saudi Internet users.” Nasser and Abdelkhair said their Twitter pages had been blocked by the Saudi government’s Communications and Information Technology Commission. Nasser, who keeps a blog called Mashi Sah (“That’s not true”) said his Twitter messages included references to the human rights situation and governance in Saudi Arabia and links to human rights sites. Abdelkhair, a human rights lawyer and head of a Saudi human rights organisation, had also referred to human rights violations in his “tweets,” the short text messages that are Twitter’s speciality. Ahmed Al-Omran, a blogger who first drew attention to the situation, said it was the first time the authorities had moved against Twitter users in Saudi Arabia. Press freedom continues to be virtually non-existent in Saudi Arabia. Culture and information ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Al-Hazaa announced the closure of the Riyadh and Jeddah bureaux of the Lebanon-based satellite TV station LBC on 9 August for broadcasting a programme in which a Saudi man talked about his sexual adventures. Saudi Arabia was ranked 161st out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.