YEMEN: Blog platform blocked



PARIS, March 26, 2008 (RSF) – Reporters Without Borders condemns the fact that access to Maktoobblog.com, a blog platform that hosts more than 2,000 Yemeni blogs, has been blocked for several days without any explanation being given by the country's ISP's or the platform itself.

"The situation of the Internet in Yemen continues to get worse," the press freedom organisation said. "Without access to Maktoob, Internet users cannot post entries on their blogs and report news. President Ali Abdallah Saleh's government is having a difficult time with a wave of social unrest throughout the country. We fear the authorities are adopting online censorship measures in a bid to silence these protests."

The information ministry denies blocking the site. But OpenNet Initiative, a partnership of academic institutions in Britain, Canada and the United States, has established that Maktoob continues to be inaccessible for the clients of the state ISP Yemennet. When reached by Reporters Without Borders, Yemennet refused to make any comment.

The website of the Yemeni Socialist Party, http://www.aleshteraki.net, has been inaccessible since March 12 without any explanation being offered by the authorities. The YemenPortal news website, http://www.yemenportal.net, is also inaccessible .

Reporters Without Borders wrote to the information minister on February 12 requesting an explanation for the government's Internet filtering policies. He did not reply. Internet users launched a campaign for the unblocking of Yemeni opposition websites on February 15.

On March 12, Reporters Without Borders released a list of “countries under surveillance” because of their Internet policies. Yemen is on the list.