The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Blunkett backed strike on Al Jazeera in Baghdad

I haven't followed this story, but got this in my inbox yesterday from Al Jazeera:

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Al Jazeera Denounces former British Home Secretary’s Statements

DOHA, QATAR – October 18th, 2006: It is with great disappointment that the journalists and staff of Al Jazeera have received statements made recently by former British Home Secretary, David Blunkett. In an interview with Channel Four, Mr Blunkett – who was a member of the war cabinet during the Iraq invasion – admits that he advised Prime Minister Tony Blair to attack Al Jazeera’s Baghdad office.

Mr Blunkett justifies his position by saying that “I don’t think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don’t actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy.” Al Jazeera Network is outraged at such an attitude toward the free press. We are troubled by the fact that the former Home Secretary’s advice came only two weeks before the actual bombing of Al Jazeera’s Baghdad office, which resulted in the death of our reporter, Tareq Ayoub, and the destruction of our facilities.

As an international news organization, Al Jazeera Network is obliged by law to address its employees’ increasing concerns for their very lives. We find Mr. Blunkett’s allegations and position to be irresponsible and dangerous not only for Al Jazeera but for the freedom of media everywhere in the world. Given the weight of Mr. Blunkett’s statements we strongly urge Prime Minister Blair for a clarification of this matter in alignment with the tenants of freedom and democracy which they advocate. Al Jazeera is in consultation with its lawyers and pursuing next steps in the matter.
What this doesn't say is whether Blunkett's advice was heeded by Tony Blair, or whether Blair or Bush personally approved an attack on Al Jazeera's office in Baghdad, which killed several people.