Kuwait closes Al-Jazeera TV office

Kuwaiti authorities have closed the office of the Qatar-based pan-Arab Al-Jazeera news channel over coverage of a police crackdown on a public gathering, the channel said on Monday.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010, 18:45 PM IST

Kuwait City: Kuwaiti authorities have
closed the office of the Qatar-based pan-Arab Al-Jazeera news
channel over coverage of a police crackdown on a public
gathering, the channel said on Monday.

"Today, I received a phone call from the information
ministry informing me that the office has been closed
immediately and our accreditations have been withdrawn," Saad
al-Saeedi, Al-Jazeera`s bureau chief in Kuwait City, said to a news agency.

Ministry officials had delivered the office a letter
that stated the reason for the closure was "the latest
developments and your interference in Kuwait`s internal
affairs," Saeedi said, quoting the letter.

The channel had aired extensive coverage of the police
crackdown on a gathering held by the Kuwaiti opposition on
Wednesday.

It showed footage of police beating activists and
aired interviews with members of the Kuwaiti opposition
following the clashes in which four Kuwaiti MPs and a dozen
citizens were hurt.

In a statement, Al-Jazeera denied the charge of
meddling in Kuwaiti affairs, saying it was just doing its job.

"Al-Jazeera, which has adhered in its coverage of
Kuwaiti affairs to hosting all parties, condemns considering
its professional coverage an interference in Kuwaiti internal
affairs," it said.

"Al-Jazeera vows to continue to cover Kuwaiti affairs
with full professionalism and balance."

Three Kuwaiti opposition MPs today filed a motion to
question the prime minister in parliament over the police
action and alleged government clampdown on public freedoms.

Kuwait closed the office of Al-Jazeera in November
2002 in the runup to the US-led war on Iraq because it said
the channel took a hostile stand against Kuwait, and for
security reasons, before reopening it in May 2005.

This followed an official visit by Qatar`s Emir Sheikh
Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, whose country has often had
problems with other Arab states over Al-Jazeera`s news
coverage.

PTI