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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bahrain to sue UK newspaper, accuses legendary journalist Robert Fisk of defamation

Bahrain said it plans to sue British newspaper, The Independent, amid accusations of “defamation and a premeditated media campaign,” against the Gulf Arab kingdom, which was embroiled in weeks of political protests earlier this year.

“The Independent has deliberately published a series of unrealistic and provocative articles targeting Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Nawaf Al Mawada, of the Information Affairs Authority, told Bahrain’s state news agency.

Mr. Mawada specifically pointed toward articles by Robert Fisk, the legendary Middle East journalist, commentator and author whose staple articles in the Independent are internationally recognized.
Mr. Mawada said Mr. Fisk played a part in “orchestrating a defamatory and premeditated media campaign against both countries.”

Mr. Fisk’s most recent article, published Tuesday, criticized Bahrain’s trial of doctors facing charges ranging from incitement, to stockpiling weapons, to taking over the country’s main medical complex.

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers quelled democracy protests this year, led mostly by the country’s Shiite majority population, after imposing emergency law and bringing in troops from Sunni-ruled Gulf neighbors.

But the government accused protesters of having a sectarian agenda and backing from nearby Shiite power Iran, charges which the opposition denies.

Bahrain has now hired a UK-based firm to pursue legal action against The Independent’s reporting of the unrest, Mr. Mawada said.

(Eman El-Shenawi, a writer at Al Arabiya English

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