Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Kuwait closes Al Jazeera office

Kuwait authorities have shut down the offices of news channel Al Jazeera and withdrawn the accreditation of its correspondents in a fresh clash between the network and the Gulf state, the Doha-based news channel said.

The network said it was threatened with closure if it aired a live interview with Musallam Al-Barrak, a lawmaker who represents one of the main opposition blocs in the Kuwaiti assembly.

“The network refused to give in to the threat and proceeded with the interview in accordance with Al Jazeera’s policy of giving voice to all sides of a story,” the news channel said in a statement.

“Despite Al Jazeera’s request, the Kuwaiti government failed to provide spokespersons to appear in the same program alongside Mr. Al-Barrak to give the government’s point of view,” said Al Jazeera.

The news channel said it condemned the closure and would continue to report on Kuwaiti affairs.

In a statement carried by state news agency KUNA, the government confirmed it had revoked the station's network licence and blamed the television station for meddling in Kuwait's domestic affairs.

It is the third time the Gulf country has closed down Al Jazeera’s offices in objection to its coverage.

Kuwait first closed the bureau for a month in 1999 when an Iraqi caller insulted Kuwait’s Emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, during a live show.

The local bureau was opened again two years later.

In 2002, the network’s offices were closed again after Kuwait officials deemed its local coverage to be biased against the Gulf state.

The Qatar-based network has a record of tense relations with Arab countries over its coverage of sensitive political issues. In May, its Bahrain office was suspended and crew were banned from traveling to the Gulf state after it accused the channel of flouting press rules.

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