Bahrain deports two journalists
Manama, April 6, 2011
Bahraini authorities have deported two journalists working for the opposition’s main newspaper.
The government accused Al Wasat of unethical coverage of the recent unrest.
The journalists are both Iraqi.
Both Al Wasat and its former editor-in-chief could face legal action after the Arabic daily was allegedly caught publishing fabricated news stories.
Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) reported on Monday that the newspaper's editor-in-chief Dr Mansoor Al Jamri had been sacked along with two other senior members of its management team.
However, the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) confirmed yesterday that a case filed against Dr Al Jamri and the publication was now being investigated by the Public Prosecution.
'Procedures will be taken following the law and will include both the paper and the editor-in-chief who was responsible for the publication during the unrest,' IAA spokeswoman Maysoon Sabkar told a Press conference at the organisation's headquarters, in Isa Town, yesterday.
However, she denied the government had played any part in the three newspaper executives losing their jobs.
'The decision was an internal one and the IAA did not interfere in any way in whether the editor-in-chief and other officials continue to be present or not,' she said. 'It was purely a decision by the newspaper board.'
Al Wasat's board of directors fired Dr Al Jamri, managing editor Waleed Nuwaihedh and local news editor Aqeel Mirza on Sunday, a day after Bahrain TV accused the opposition newspaper of deliberately publishing fake news.
The station provided evidence that appeared to show the newspaper lifted old articles from other newspapers and online forums, changed some details and republished them to make it appear as though the incidents happened in Bahrain.
Authorities have accused Al Wasat of distorting facts and reporting selective details in a deliberate attempt to influence its readership during a critical period.
The newspaper was suspended on Saturday night, meaning there was no edition on Sunday, but it was given the green light to publish on Monday after the board named Obaidli Al Obaidli as the new editor-in-chief.
Sabkar read out a statement during yesterday's Press conference, which revealed the IAA received a tip-off from a journalist on March 25 about alleged violations by Al Wasat.
She said Dr Al Jamri had been invited to appear on Bahrain TV twice to face the allegations.'However, Dr Al Jamri once again regretted his attendance to the show on Saturday, saying that the scheduled timing coincided with his evening work responsibilities,' she said.
The Al Wasat board is now expected to hold new elections within a month.
Dr Al Jamri and his successor, Al Obaidli, were both unavailable for comment yesterday.
The Bahrain Journalists Association said on Sunday night that it had reported the matter to the International Federation of Journalists and the Federation of Arab Journalists.-TradeArabia News Service