Daily News Egypt (DNE), one of Egypt’s leading English-language daily newspapers and online websites, has been blocked in Egypt. Al Borsa News, which shares the same owner as DNE and covers business news, also appears to have been blocked.
The two websites have become inaccessible for Internet users in Egypt, but remain online for internet users in other countries.
Egyptian Streets first reported on the block of DNE on Friday 26 May.
However, it was shortly discovered that Daily News Egypt had started using a different website, TheDailyNewsEgypt.com, which until Sunday 28 May had not been blocked (but appears to have been at the time of publishing).
The move to use TheDailyNewsEgypt.com coincided with the alleged ‘technical issues’ that DailyNewsEgypt.com is facing. Until 26 May, TheDailyNewsEgypt.com had never been publicly used by DNE to promote its articles.
In fact, a search on Alexa two days ago shows that the new website has been so underused that there are no visitor statistics.
Egyptian Streets contacted the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), a leading non-governmental organization in Egypt, with this information prior to the blocking of DNE’s new domain name TheDailyNewsEgypt.com.
AFTE confirmed that DNE appears to have been the target of the recent blocking of at least 21 websites by the Egyptian government.
“It is most likely that the Egyptian Government blocked Daily News Egypt’s website despite the newspaper not releasing any statement to confirm or deny this. However, principally, I believe the website has been blocked,” said AFTE’s Mohamed Al-Taher.
“First, the domain of the website was changed suddenly and without any announcement of the change or even a note. This happened at the same time 21 websites were blocked.
“Second, the domain TheDailyNewsEgypt.com was registered on 14 July 2007 and the domain DailyNewsEgypt.com was registered on 21 November 2009. Although the [newly used] domain is older…the domain without ‘the’ has been the one predominantly used until two days ago.
“Third, If you use Tor or a proxy, you will notice that the domain DailyNewsEgypt.com now transfers you to TheDailyNewsEgypt.com to overcome the block and log automatically into the newly used domain.
“Fourth, DailyNewsEgypt.com is owned by code95, this is the company that developed the website. However, and with the new domain TheDailyNewsEgypt.com, no information is available about the owner because the access to the information pertaining to the domain is blocked.
“Finally, Both domains refer to the same DNS, dave.ns.cloudflare.com / kay.ns.cloudflare.com.”
Daily News Egypt and its holding company issued a statement later on Sunday denouncing the website block in Egypt, and call on the Journalists’ Union to take responsibility for the “arbitrary measures”.
The statement adds that a big Saudi businessman invests in 50 percent of the company which funds the paper and its sister publication Al-Borsa, also blocked by the Egyptian state.
Both, Daily News Egypt and Al-Borsa, have submitted a memo on Sunday to the Press Syndicate and the Supreme Council of Information on the blocking of the websites with no legal justification.
According to the statement, the blocking of the website is another episode of series of government violations since last November. The violations began with reservation of the shares of Business News Group, freezing the assets of Mostafa Sakr without notification or questioning and invading DNE premise on claims of verifying ownership of computer programs and searching the newspaper’s archive, despite its availability online.
Daily News Egypt confirms that they will resume publishing the print version in addition to utilising social media assets to post their content online.
Why was Daily News Egypt targeted?
DNE and Al Borsa are both owned by Business News Group. In 2016, Mostafa Sakr, one of the shareholders of Business News Group, was subject of an investigation by the Committee to Freeze and Manage the Muslim Brotherhood Organization’s Assets.
In December 2016, the Committee froze the assets of Mostafa Sakr, impacting the operations of Business News Group and its subsidiaries.
At the time, the company strongly denied any political affiliations, adding that it would take legal measures against the decision.
It is unclear whether the block of DNE and Al Borsa News is related to Sakr’s assets. However, both newspapers have generally not been of anti-government nature.
Moheet Arabic news website has been banned joining the 23 blocked websites. Moheet is the first-launched Arabic news website established in 1998.
Also, egynews.net, which is owned by Egypt’s state TV, appears to be have been blocked.
This story is developing.