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Iran lifts al-Jazeera ban – due to management reshuffle? 31 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, Bila Hudud, iran, iraq, media.
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Iran has lifted its restrictions on al-Jazeera reporters, in the aftermath of the Bila Hudud al-Sistani ‘insult’ incident. Director of Foreign Media at Iran’s Ministry of Culture Mohsen Moqaddaszadeh said:

The channel is allowed to resume both its Arabic and English services in Tehran after it officially apologized to Iran and made some changes at managerial level.

Is this a reference to the al-Jazeera board of directors reshuffle that dropped Wadah Khanfar?

Meanwhile, Khanfar’s absence has raised eyebrows at the Asia Media Summit in Malaysia. Khanfar – still listed as “Director General of the al-Jazeera Network” in the official programme – was nowhere to be seen.

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Change at the top: al-Jazeera network board of directors reshuffled 21 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, qatar.
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Qatar’s Deputy Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, reshuffled the seven-member al-Jazeera network board of directors, according to a Qatar News Agency dispatch on 15 May. The new appointments are to last for three years.

  • Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s royal family, will continue to hold the position of Chairman.
  • Ahmad Abdullah al-Kholeifi takes up the position of Deputy Chairman and General Manager

(Wadah Khanfar, and the title he once owned – Director General – appear to have been scrapped from the board)

Other members of the board are:

  • Hamad Abdulaziz al-Kuwari (Former Qatari information minister)
  • Abdullah Mubarak al-Kholeifi (continues)
  • Mahmoud Shamam (continues)
  • Abdul Aziz Ibrahim al Mahmoud
  • Mariam Rashed Yousuf al-Khater

So what does it all mean? Leave a comment.

Chatter from the web:

A thinly-sourced article in Echorouk Al Yaoumi sees an opportunity for al-Jazeera’s Algerian presenter Khadija Ben Guenna to take over the top spot at the channel, although she reportedly does not want the position.

Danny Schechter says:

There has just been a worrisome recent development at the one media outlet in the world known for its independence, Al Jazeera, where a new board has been named with a gutsy independent journalist replaced as managing director by a former Ambassador to Washington. You just know what that will result in — Foxera, was the formulation coined by one reader.

Iran, al-Jazeera spat continues 14 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, crackdown, iran.
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Iranian embassy officials in Abu Dhabi, UAE, today ordered the al-Jazeera television crew to leave the Emirates Palace Hotel ahead of a press conference by visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reported Gulf News.

Jail for civil servant, researcher in ‘al-Jazeera memo’ case; UK media blackout 11 May 2007

Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-jazeera memo, media.
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Two men have been jailed in the UK for breaching the Official Secrets Act by attempting to leak a memo describing details of a conversation in April 2004 between British PM Tony Blair and US president George Bush.

David Keogh, a communications officer at the Cabinet Office, was given six months while Leo O’Connor, a researcher for anti-war Labour MP Anthony Clarke, received three months

British newspapers are all reporting the story, but not what the memo contains. Because they can’t.

As The Independent noted:

Throughout the trial, the public and press were excluded from parts of the hearing which referred to the contents of the highly sensitive memo. It is a contempt of court to publish details of the memo.

What is known is that The Daily Mirror reported on the particular memo on 22 November 2005 in a front-page story. The original article (full text still available on the Mirror site here) stated that the memo indicated that Bush “planned to bomb” the Doha headquarters of al-Jazeera. One source told the newspaper the president’s reference to bombing the Qatari capital was in jest. Another source claimed the conversation was serious. The memo also allegedly “included details of troop deployments”.

Several British newspapers are now appealing to be allowed to report on more details of the case – including the information in the above paragraph. Justice Richard Aikens said the British press could reveal some of the background, provided they did it in a remarkably contorted manner, as The Guardian explained:

The judge suggested that the allegations could be “recycled,” but only if they were published on a separate page of a newspaper from that containing references to the trial.

The Mirror today could only hint at what their previous story had said:

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors after the judge said that “some individuals or groups in the Middle East might react very unfavourably to the contents of the letter”.

Details of the memo had already been revealed exclusively by the Daily Mirror and are therefore in the public domain.

But although our story was flashed around the world and is freely available on the internet, the judge ruled it could not be repeated in reports of the trial.

The original Mirror story prompted some al-Jazeera staffers to set up the “Don’t Bomb Us” blog. A flotilla of bloggers subsequently stepped forward – under the motto “I’ll publish the al-Jazeera memo” – to proclaim they would risk jail to release the contents of the letter.

Iran parliament bars al-Jazeera journalists after al-Sistani “insult” 7 May 2007

Posted by foray in Bila Hudud, crackdown, iran, iraq.
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The Iranian parliament has banned al-Jazeera correspondents from its premises after accusing the host of one of the channel’s talkshows of insulting Iraqi Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Bila Hudud (Without Borders) presenter Ahmed Mansour was said to have questioned al-Sistani’s leadership credentials.

Parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel said: “Parliament has decided to prevent al-Jazeera journalists from entering until this network makes a formal apology for insulting Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.”

“We consider this act as a plot of the enemies of Iraq. Al-Jazeera has insulted Ayatollah Sistani because it is well aware of his role in keeping Iraq united.”

After several Iraqi Shia rallies in Basra and Najaf, al-Jazeera editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Sheikh said: “There was no offence directed at al-Sistani and al-Jazeera doesn’t approve of offending anyone. We have the utmost respect and appreciation of all religious leaders, foremost of whom is al-Sistani.”