By Andy Sambidge
Reporters Without Borders adds Gulf kingdom to list that also includes Saudi Arabia
Bahrain has been added to a new list of "internet enemies" produced by Reporters Without Borders on Monday.
The annual report, which classifies as “enemies” countries that severely curtail freedom of expression on the internet, said the Gulf kingdom and Belarus had been added for 2012.
The group cited a news blackout and harassment of bloggers in an attempt to quell a year-long rebellion against rulers for adding Bahrain.
The country had previously been under surveillance, it said in a statement posted on its website.
Bahrain joins a list which includes Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
"Bahrain offers an example of an effective news blackout based on a remarkable array of repressive measures: keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and netizens (one of whom died in detention), smearing and prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during the major demonstrations," the report said.
It added that Saudi Arabia has "continued its relentless censorship".
Reporters Without Borders said that the Arab Spring had also highlighted the importance of the internet.
“The internet and social networks have been conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning and circulating information, and as vehicles for freedom,” the group said. “More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.”
The group also publishes a list of countries under surveillance which contains some surprises like Australia and France.