News Release

Information Control: * Satellite * Internet

* Arab League Going After Al-Jazeera?

The Guardian in Britain reports: “The head of al-Jazeera has launched a scathing attack on Middle East governments, accusing them of framing new laws giving them powers to close down the Arabic-language news channel and other broadcasters.”

JOEL CAMPAGNA
Campagna is program coordinator on the Middle East and North Africa for the Committee to Protect Journalists, which released a statement “condemn[ing] the adoption of a charter by the council of Arab information ministers intended to regulate and control satellite TV stations.

“Called ‘Principles for Organizing Satellite Radio and TV Broadcasting in the Arab Region,’ the document mainly targets privately owned stations that have been airing criticism of Arab governments. The 13-article document bans ‘negative influence on social peace and national unity and public order and decency.’

“The document requires Arab satellite broadcasters to exercise freedom of expression with ‘responsibility and awareness’ and without harming ‘the supreme interests of Arab states.’ It also bans any broadcasting ‘in contradiction with the principles of Arab solidarity’ and defaming Arab ‘leaders or national and religious symbols.'”
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* U.S. Court Shutting Down WikiLeaks

AP is reporting: “A federal judge has set off a free speech tempest after shutting down a U.S. Web site for posting internal documents accusing a Cayman Islands’ bank branch of money laundering and tax evasion schemes.

“The Bank Julius Baer & Co. said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that a disgruntled executive fired for ‘misconduct’ stole the documents and illegally posted them on wikileaks.org. The bank also said a number of the documents have been altered, but it didn’t provide details.

“The site claims to have posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents that it says expose unethical behavior, including a 2003 operation manual for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

WikiLeaks has set up “mirror” sites including sunshinepress.org, where the documents in question can still be found.

JIM NAURECKAS
Editor of the media watch group FAIR’s magazine Extra!, Naureckas said today: “Trying to shut down a media outlet in order to protect corporate secrets is a draconian act that flies in the face of the First Amendment.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167