Egyptian journalists hold a banner outside the Egyptian Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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An often fiery government critic, Egyptian journalist Khaled al-Balshi has been arrested, had his operations monitored, and staff harassed by police for years. Yet his website Al-Bedaiah, a rare dissident voice in Egypt, had never been touched. That changed Sunday when it suddenly went blank with no warning after being blocked, part of what Balshi called an unprecedented and far-reaching state crackdown on scores of news websites in recent weeks. Some journalists say a presidential election in 2018 means Egypt is doubling down on press restrictions, a move intended to ensure opposition candidates have few spaces to challenge general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely expected to run for a second term.Like another website blocked Sunday, El Badil, Balshi's has provided a platform for critics of the deal who argue that the islands are Egyptian territory, a point of view that sparked rare street protests last year calling for the accord's cancellation.
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