Saudi Arabia appears to have blocked the website of human rights organisation Amnesty International after it published an analysis that said a proposed anti-terrorist law in the kingdom could be directed against peaceful protests.
Amnesty, which has its international secretariat in London, said on Monday that its international website had been blocked in Saudi Arabia following criticism of the draft anti-terror law.
In a message on Twitter, it pointed people to an alternative link to a statement in Arabic on its UK site. "Although the Saudi authorities have blocked our main international site, they haven't yet blocked any Amnesty UK site, as far as we know," Amnesty said.
The development highlights the increased regulation of online activity and websites in the kingdom. It frequently blocks websites that are considered critical of the government, or are seen not to adhere to Islamic principles, but this is one of the few occasions when the government has targeted a high profile organisation.
Online censorship is ubiquitous in Saudi Arabia, said Reporters Without Borders in January. A new rule introduced at the beginning of the year further regulates news websites and other online activity, it said. The press freedom organisation rates Saudi Arabia along with China, Cuba and Iran, as one of ten "enemies of the Internet".
The embassy of Saudi Arabia in London said that Amnesty's concerns about the law "are baseless, mere supposition on their part, and completely without foundation". It added that Amnesty had criticised the law without contacting the embassy for clarity or comment.
The statement did not however refer to the blocking of the Amnesty website in Saudi Arabia. Authorities in the country were not immediately available for comment.
Photo courtesy of Tijl Vercaemer
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