Beginning on December 28, 2019, Bangladeshi authorities have blocked domestic connections to Netra News, a recently launched news website based in Sweden, according to a report by Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera and Netra News editor-in-chief Tasneem Khalil, who wrote to CPJ via email.
The website launched on December 26 with eight articles published in English and Bengali, including one that alleged corruption by a high-ranking minister.
Khalil told CPJ that readers first reported problems accessing the website on December 28, and said that since December 29, Netra News has been inaccessible throughout Bangladesh. CPJ was able to access the website from the United States.
Jahurul Haque, the chairman of Bangladesh’s media regulator, told Al-Jazeera that his agency did not receive any government order to block the website.
Military and government officials told Khalil that the order to block the website came from Bangladesh’s military intelligence agency, the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, he said. CPJ could not independently confirm the origin of the block. CPJ emailed the intelligence agency for comment but received an error message in response.
Netra News is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, a private foundation funded by the U.S. government, Khalil said.
CPJ emailed the Bangladeshi prime minister’s office and the Department of Telecommunications for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply.
Bangladesh has previously blocked other domestic and foreign websites, including 54 news portals and websites in late 2018, according to news reports from the time.