Egypt has banned 21 websites, including the main website of Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and prominent local independent news site Mada Masr, accusing them of supporting terrorism and spreading false news.
The blockade is notable in scope and for being the first publicly recognized by the government. It was heavily criticized by journalists and rights groups.
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The state news agency announced it late on Wednesday. Individual websites had been inaccessible in the past but there was never any official admission.
Reuters found the websites named by local media and were inaccessible.
The move follows similar actions taken on Wednesday by Egypt’s Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which blocked Al Jazeera and other websites after a dispute with Qatar.
Qatar said hackers had posted fake remarks by its emir criticizing U.S. foreign policy but Saudi and UAE state-run media reported the comments anyway.
An official from Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority would not confirm or deny the blockage, but said: “So what if it is true? It should not be a problem.”
Two security sources told Reuters the 21 websites were blocked for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or for being funded by Qatar.