Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NGO website barred in Cambodia for releasing scathing report

PHNOM PENH -- The website of UK-based corruption watchdog the Global Witness has been blocked for some local web users following its release of a scathing report on Cambodia's nascent oil and mining industries last week, national media said on Monday.

AngkorNet, one of the kingdom's leading internet service providers (ISP), had blocked the site over the weekend in a manner consistent with a deliberate attempt to prevent access, English- language newspaper the Phnom Penh Post quoted Norbert Klein, editor of the online Cambodia Mirror, as saying.

"This doesn't happen automatically. Somebody somewhere must have done something," he said, adding that the block could either have originated with the ISP itself, or "somewhere further upstream."

AngkorNet representatives confirmed the Global Witness site was barred to its customers, but could not provide further details into the reasons for the restricted access.

The 70-page "Country for Sale" report accused corrupt ruling elites of monopolizing the kingdom's mining and oil industries, aided by a "total lack" of transparency.

The report has drawn fierce criticism from Cambodian government officials since its release on January 5.

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