Press displeased with blocking of mobile news services [Archives:2007/1054/Front Page]

May 28 2007

Ismail Al-Ghabri
SANA'A, May 26 ) The press and those interested in news services provided by GSM companies denounced blocking the news services of Nass Mobile and Without Chains Mobile, respectively telecast by Al-Nass Establishment for Press and Women Journalists Without Chains and provided by Yemen's MTN telecommunications company. They also denounced the nonstop blocking of and web sites by Yemen's Telecommunications Ministry.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate expressed full solidarity with Al-Nass Establishment for Press and Women Journalists Without Chains against their news services being blocked.

MTN Yemen announced on Friday evening that it made the decision following political pressure from the authority.

Hamdi Al-Bukari, a member of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate's council, assured that MTN Yemen's conduct is illegal and an aggression against customers' rights. He added that the syndicate will take a strong stance on such violations, noting that it will review many of its previous transactions.

Al-Bukari further indicated that the syndicate will escalate its protests against the deterioration of press freedom in Yemen and called for extended meetings at the syndicate's headquarters to discuss the press freedom situation regarding blocking electronic web sites and halting GSM news services.

The syndicate's secretary-general, Marwan Dammaj, denounced the Yemeni government's attempts to deprive its citizens of the fruits brought about by technological advancement in the telecommunications field, hinting that such a practice reveals that the government isn't pleased about freedom of expression.

Dammaj also demanded a decisive and blatant attitude by all people against such dangerous violations, at the same time calling for a halt to blocking electronic web sites and stopping such blocking in the future.

In its statement, Al-Nass Establishment for Press criticized MTN Yemen's halting of its news service, especially as it was done without any legal justification, and considers it a violation of the agreement it signed with a mediating firm in Yemen.

It added that the political resolution to halt Nass Mobile news service is a dangerous sign indicating the totalitarian mind of the authorities who are incapable of coping with the prerequisites of Yemeni law and its constitution, which ensure freedom of expression and the right of receivers to access information.

Sabafon Chairman Hamid Al-Ahmar pointed out that there are no legal hindrances to providing news services via SMS, especially under the Yemeni Constitution, which ensures freedom of opinion and media, noting that his company provides news services of both national and foreign parties under legal treaties.

Al-Ahmar further declared that both his firm and MTN Yemen have received numerous notices from the Information and Telecommunications Ministries asking them to halt the news service of Without Chains Mobile. Sabafon declined the ministries' demands, but MTN yielded to the illegal pressure.

Al-Ahmar stressed that his company won't break treaties signed with news service providers and further requested adopting a law as the sole authority in this regard.

Yemen Journalists Syndicate Chairman Nasr Taha Mustafa affirmed that there are legal problems regarding providing news services via GSM companies, but he called for handling such problems aside from each side's reactionary attitudes.

In the Sunday edition of Al-Siyasiah newspaper, Mustafa noted that the Information Ministry must compel those wanting to launch mobile news services, such as Nass Mobile or Without Chains Mobile, to receive permission from the ministry, just as September Mobile did.

He further expressed his confidence that the Information Ministry will treat Nass Mobile and Without Chains Mobile according to known legal standards.

Despite reservations about their coverage of the Sa'ada events, Mustafa noted that he's against blocking and web sites, pointing out that such blocking is done at the national level while those abroad easily may view both sites.

He added that those affected by what the two sites published should resort to the judiciary instead of blocking them, which damages Yemen's image abroad.