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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Iraq shuts al-Jazeera Baghdad office for a month

August 6, 2004
Iraq's interim government ordered Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television network to close its Baghdad office for one month on Saturday, a move criticised as unjustifiable by the channel.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, confirming the decision at a news conference, said a commission had been monitoring Al Jazeera for the past four weeks to see whether it was inciting violence and hatred, and that the decision had been taken "to protect the people of Iraq". "It's regrettable and we believe it's not justifiable," Al Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said. "This latest decision runs contrary to all the promises made by Iraqi authorities concerning freedom of expression and freedom of the press."

Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said this week that Arabic satellite channels were encouraging kidnappings by showing images of hostages threatened with executions. Another government official at the press conference said the station had "encouraged criminals and gangsters" in Iraq. ... FR Reprint.

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