Bahrain to sue Independent newspaper over articles
Official accuses newspaper of ‘defamatory and premeditated media campaign’ against Gulf state and Saudi Arabia
Bahrain is to sue the Independent newspaper, accusing it of “orchestrating a defamatory and premeditated media campaign” against the Gulf state and neighbouring Saudi Arabia. It singled out for criticism the newspaper’s award-winning Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk.
A UK-based legal firm has been hired, according to a report by the state news agency in Bahrain, where the ruling regime has been suppressing popular uprisings for months. Last week the Bahrain grand prix was cancelled following complaints by Formula One teams.
“The Independent has deliberately published a series of unrealistic and provocative articles targeting Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, Bahrain’s state news agency (BNA) was told by Nawaf Mohammed Al-Maawda of the country’s information affairs authority.
The BNA said he had cited Fisk in particular and accused the newspaper of “orchestrating a defamatory and premeditated media campaign against both countries, failing to abide by professional impartiality and credibility in its one-sided news-coverage and reports”.
The Independent issued no immediate comment in response to the report.
“Has the Khalifa family gone mad?” Fisk wrote in an article on Tuesday, in which he accused the Bahraini royal family of allegedly starting “an utterly fraudulent trial” of surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses who had tended the injured four months ago after security forces opened fire on protesters.
He concluded: “Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.”
Bahrain has defied international criticism by continuing military trials against dozens of medical personnel. Twenty doctors pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges ranging from stealing medicines to stockpiling weapons during the unprecedented unrest that erupted in the small Gulf island state in February, between the uprisings that overthrew the presidents of Tunisia and then Egypt.
Bahrain’s Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, which rules over a restive Shia majority, has been attempting to restore calm and repair the government’s battered reputation after facing widespread condemnation of its suppression of unrest.
A state of emergency imposed when the trouble erupted was lifted this month.
The BNA also reported that Al-Maawda had “called upon all media to observe accuracy and objectivity and project the true image”, adding that all doors remain open to visit Bahrain and gauge the real situation on the ground as the Kingdom is steadily regaining normality and stability.