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NGO site barred by local ISP

Global Witness site blocked for AngkorNet customers

THE website of the UK-based corruption watchdog Global Witness has been blocked for some local web users following the organisation's release of a scathing report on the Kingdom's nascent oil and mining industries last week.

Norbert Klein, editor of the online Cambodia Mirror, told the Post that AngkorNet - one of the Kingdom's leading internet service providers (ISPs) - had blocked the site over the weekend in a manner consistent with a deliberate attempt to prevent access.

"This doesn't happen automatically. Somebody somewhere must have done something," he said Sunday, 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 the ISP's customers, but could not provide further details into the reasons for the restricted access.

However, on Sunday afternoon the site - including free copies of the NGO's new report - was still accessible for customers of Online and City Link, two other major ISPs.

The 70-page "Country for Sale" report, which accuses corrupt ruling elites of monopolising the country's mining and oil industries, aided by a "total lack" of transparency, has drawn criticism from officials since its release Thursday.

"It is not a balanced report," said Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers. "Its purpose is to discredit the government."

Hor Nambora, the Cambodian ambassador in London, released a statement Friday accusing Global Witness of engaging in a "hugely damaging smear campaign" against the Cambodian government.

In June 2007, authorities banned the Global Witness report "Family Trees", which accused senior officials of involvement in illegal logging, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith denied the government had plans to ban the new report or prevent access to the Global Witness website.

The apparent blocking of the site comes a week after reahu.net, the site of a Khmer-American artist, was reportedly blocked by several local ISPs for its scantily clad depictions of Cambodian women.

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