The domain-name records for two websites, news.tj and asiaplus.tj, was reportedly misconfigured deliberately to disrupt access. While this could potentially result from an error or cyberattack, the national domain registry has yet to investigate complaints from Asia Plus and Eastera, the private hosting provider that manages the domains.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Tajik authorities to investigate the "apparently targeted disruption" of the embattled independent news agency Asia-Plus's websites and to help ensure access to them.
In a statement released the New York-based media-freedom watchdog on September 10, Gulnoza Said, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said, “The apparently targeted disruption of Asia Plus news agency’s website and the failure to restore service is cause for concern given Tajikistan’s poor press freedom record.”
The Tajik authorities should investigate the problem and help ensure the website is accessible, so the public can get much needed news and information," Gulnoza Said added.
Websites and social media are frequently subject to censorship in Tajikistan, regional news reports indicate. News is routinely censored and journalists face persecution for their critical reporting, CPJ’s statement said.
The .tj domain is administered by the Information Technology Center and CPJ says it did not receive a response to its emailed request for comment from the Information Technology Center.
A spokesperson for ICANN, the global body that governs the internet’s domain name system, reportedly declined to comment because it does not have authority to adjudicate issues involving national registries.
Recall, the main websites and business e-mails of Asia-Plus Media Group stopped working on August 19.
The government communications service agency denied responsibility for the incident
Tech experts have told Radio Liberty that the domain name records for two websites, news.tj and asiaplus.tj, had been deliberately misconfigured to disrupt access, which could potentially result from an error or cyberattack.
Following the outage, Asia-Plus news agency changed its e-mail addresses and continued to publish via the asiaplustj.info website through virtual private network (VPN), as well as its Facebook page and Telegram channel.
Asia-Plus had previously been blocked for periods ranging from a few days to several months.