Syria clamps down on inappropriate websites

The TRA is not the only government body blocking 'inappropriate' websites. Last week an AFP report revealed that Syria had blocked access to a number of its local websites after they criticised the regime.

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By  Claire Ferris-Lay Published  July 14, 2007

The TRA is not the only government body blocking ‘inappropriate' websites. Last week an AFP report revealed that Syria had blocked access to a number of its local websites after they criticised the regime.

A human rights group in the country, quoted in the report, said the country had blocked certain sites including those run by leading daily newspapers including Saudi Arabian-owned Asharq Al-Awsat (The Middle East) and Beirut-based Al-Mustaqbal (The Future).

"Freedom of the internet is regressing in Syria after the authorities blocked access to a string of independent websites," the group complained. It also claimed that an email provider, Hotmail, had been banned in the country since July 17 last year.

In a 2007 report by media watchdog group Reporters Sans Frontieres, Syria is described as the "Middle East's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents", with three people currently in jail for criticising the regime. It also says the "government blocked access to Arab-language opposition websites and those dealing with the country's Kurdish minority."

In June Amnesty International called for the release of seven students who were jailed in Syria after calling for peaceful political reforms online. They were believed to have been arrested and tried due to their involvement in developing a youth discussion group and for publishing pro-democracy articles on the internet.

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