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Cablegate: Watching the Secretary's Internet Freedom Speech From Tripoli

VZCZCXRO7145
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0071 0251558
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 251558Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5730
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1537
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0859
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0978
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0919
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0032
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6283

UNCLAS TRIPOLI 000071

SENSITIVE SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/PPD (CHERY-MADOR), NEA/MAG; DUBAI FOR MEDIA HUB E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM KPAO OIIP PREL LY

SUBJECT: WATCHING THE SECRETARY'S INTERNET FREEDOM SPEECH FROM TRIPOLI REF: STATE 4203

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy Tripoli assembled 40 prominent Libyan guests on January 21 to watch the Secretary's speech on Internet Freedom live over the Internet. Despite limited bandwidth, participants took part in a lively discussion covering a range of topics, such as government control of the Internet, freedom of expression, America's role in the development of the Internet, and the future of the World Wide Web on Libyan and world culture. The local media did not report on the Secretary's remarks. END SUMMARY

2.(SBU) Embassy Tripoli organized a "watch party" at a local hotel, assembling a group of 40 Libyan guests to watch Secretary Clinton's remarks via the State Department's live streaming web software CO.NX. Guests included prominent print and television journalists, academics, businesspeople, and young scholars. The event began at 9 AM EST with a discussion of the Internet's influences on political, economic, and social discourse in Libya. Low bandwidth ultimately prevented the continuation of the live feed of the speech. Instead, Embassy's PAO continued the discussion, with conversation touching on all of the themes that the Secretary mentioned in her speech. Following the discussion, several guests opined that this was one of the best, most open conversations they had ever enjoyed in Libya. Most guests acknowledged that while the Internet is not censored in Libya -- no pages are blocked -- local security agencies monitor Internet activities. Some guests defended the practices of the government in enforcing the country's moral ethos and Islamic values.

3. (SBU) The Public Affairs Section distributed copies of the Secretary's remarks as delivered in English and Arabic and posted the texts on the Embassy's website. A photographer and journalist from Oea newspaper, a daily newspaper owned by Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi's al-Ghad Company, attended the event, but according to international press, the newspaper's operations were suspended the following day. (Note: A subsequent Libyan press report quoted a local government source as denying the news that the publication was shut-down. We do not believe the possible closure of the paper was related to the reporter's attendance of our event. End note.) The speech was not reported in local media. CRETZ

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