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Palestinian communications minister quits over Internet censorship


Palestinian Authority president and head of the Fatah movement Mahmud Abbas at a Fatah 'Revolutionary Council' meeting in Ramallah on October 26, 2011.



The communications minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has resigned, accusing senior officials of clamping down on critics and stifling freedom of expression.

Abu Daqa announced he was stepping down late Thursday, and revealed that the PA’s attorney general had ordered Palestinian Internet service providers to block access to at least eight websites critical of PA President Mahmoud Abbas over the past six months, the BBC reports.

The websites were reportedly loyal to one of Abbas’ most strident opponents, Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza Strip security chief who was kicked out of the Fatah movement which dominates the PA in June after accusing the president of weakness and corruption.

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Daqa said the Internet crackdown was “bad for the image of the Palestinian Authority in the world,” and pointed out that the websites could continue to reach users by switching to other domains, according to the Associated Press.

The PA’s crackdown was also criticized in Washington. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday: “We are concerned about any uses of technology that would restrict access to information.”

“We’ve had these concerns in other parts of the world, and we wouldn’t want to see the PA going in the direction that some of those regime have gone in,” she added.

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