By Mohamed Keita/Africa Research Associate — Reliable sources in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa have informed CPJ this week that our site was inaccessible on the servers of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, the country’s official Internet service provider. A handful of separate Internet users in the country have independently confirmed seeing “The page cannot be displayed” messages when attempting to access our site. The same sources have reported that e-mails they have tried to send to CPJ have not gone through.
Web sites, particularly foreign-based independent sites and blogs discussing political reform and human rights, have been blocked on a recurring basis in Ethiopia since the government cracked down on free media following disputed elections in 2005. In 2007, OpenNet said it has gathered “overwhelming evidence” that
This time, the reports emerged over the weekend as CPJ was investigating the detention of newspaper editor Amare Aregawi in northern
Authorities have repeatedly denied blocking Web sites, even casting doubt “if the problem really exists,” to quote Information Ministry Spokesman Zemedkun Tekle.
This week, in a telephone interview with CPJ, Bereket Simon, a top senior advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, echoed the same position. “The government has no policy of blocking Web sites. Accessibility to any Web site is open,” he told me. He said he had not received any complaints from Ethiopians about blocked sites, and questioned whether such reports were credible. The government has no control over foreign-based sites, he said.
In July, Simon asserted that the mushrooming of private electronic media in