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PLO official slams Palestinian 'censorship' of websites

By AFP

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Saturday attacked Palestinian Authority "censorship" after authorities in Ramallah shut down websites criticising president Mahmud Abbas.

"Palestine should not promote censorship, whether on the Internet or in other forms of communication," Ashrawi, an MP and Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member said in a statement.

"The blocking of Palestinian news websites and other measures that prevent access to information and curb freedom of expression are in complete contradiction to the principles enshrined in the (Palestinian) Basic Law," she said.

Palestinian telecommunications minister Mashour Abu Daqqa announced his resignation on Friday, after the public prosecutor ordered the closure of several political websites.

He did not connect his departure to the shutdown, citing only "personal reasons" on which he did not elaborate to AFP.

The public prosecutor's decision drew condemnation from rights groups and the United States.

Ashrawi further said that suppression of the websites "undermine our efforts to create a Palestinian democratic pluralistic and tolerant society based on the rule of law."