Al Arabiya condemns website block in Iraq

The Channel says the decision by Maliki’s government aims to restricts media freedom

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Al Arabiya News Channel on Thursday denounced a decision by the Iraqi government of embattled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to block its Arabic website

Al Arabiya News said Maliki’s decision to block its website aims to restrict media freedom and is an attempt to block information from Iraqi citizens following the government successive failures to maintain stability in the country.

Maliki’s government did not explain the reason behind the ban, but the prime minister, whose mandate in office has expired, had previously threatened to close the offices of Al Arabiya News Channel and ban correspondents and ban its correspondents from porting in the country.

Al Arabiya’s General Manager Abdulrahman al-Rashed vowed at the time that the news channel and its sister channel al-Hadath will continue reporting the story in Iraq despite Maliki’s threats as well as other threats from the likes of ISIS.

“Our two channels, Al Arabiya and Al Hadath have caused much embarrassment to Nouri al-Maliki after they aired a large number of videos and eyewitness accounts following the rapid collapse of his forces in Mosul and Tikrit over the past few days, prompting wide criticism against his government,” said al-Rashed in his statement.

“Maliki wants to punish Al Arabiya as he did when he closed a large number of newspapers and television stations during the past few years only because those media outlets criticized his policies. In addition, we have received continuous threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including threat to kill our correspondents. The latest of these threats was against our correspondent in Anbar. ISIS threatened on its Twitter account to kill him because we have broadcast footage showing the group’s practices,” added the general manager of Al Arabiya.

“Al Arabiya has lost 13 employees who were deliberately killed over the past 10 years and despite this we never gave up and we will never give up even if Maliki closes our offices,” concluded Rashed’s statement.

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