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Israel’s Netanyahu bans journalist from free speech event

The Israel press office said Netanyahu reiterated his intention to close Al-Jazeera in the country.

world Updated: Sep 07, 2017 19:26 IST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,Walid Al-Omary,Amnesty International
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an event in Jerusalem on September 7, 2017.(Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned Al-Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief from attending a seminar about freedom of speech, officials said, the latest move against the broadcaster by the leader.

The Israeli government press office said on Wednesday Netanyahu had demanded Walid Al-Omary be excluded from the conference taking place on Thursday. The event was focused on the limits of freedom of expression.

The press office said Netanyahu reiterated his intention to close Al-Jazeera in Israel and called for “legal measures to be taken to prevent the accreditation of all Al-Jazeera journalists.”

In July Netanyahu announced plans to expel Al-Jazeera after accusing it of incitement. Israel had also announced it would withdraw accreditation of one of the broadcaster’s journalists, Elias Karam, but he has since been given a six-month reprieve.

Amnesty International called the Israeli moves a “brazen attack on media freedom.”

Al-Jazeera, which is owned by Qatar, has also been banned by the gas-rich Gulf state’s rivals in recent months. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fostering extremism and demanding Al-Jazeera’s closure.

Al-Jazeera has nearly 80 offices around the world and broadcasts in several languages. It played a key role during the Arab Spring uprisings, but its detractors accuse it of supporting Islamist movements across the region.

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 19:26 IST