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Uzbekistan9 September 2003

Ozod Ovoz website blocked

Reporters Without Border called on the Uzbek government today to comment on the blocking of the Internet website of a local freedom of expression group, Ozod Ovoz, which often carries criticism of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. The authorities regularly censor such critical news websites., launched in April as an outlet for those who want to protest online about lack of freedom of expression, has been inaccessible in Uzbekistan since 2 September, from both private homes and cybercafés. Ozod Ovoz said anti-Karimov messages were posted on the site shortly before it was blocked.

The website, based in Azerbaijan, is thought to have been blocked in Uzbekistan by the state-run Internet service provider UzPAK, which has a near-monopoly of Internet access. Those trying to connect to the site get a message saying access is not authorised. editor Bobomurod Abdullaev said he was no longer able to update the site. But CASCFEN, a press freedom network in Central Asia and the southern Caucasus that Ozod Ovoz belongs to, said its staff in Azerbaijan were able to post material on the site.

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