Al-jazeera Chief Steps Down; Too Friendly With U.s.?
The longtime director of the al-Jazeera satellite news channel has resigned. Several reports linked the resignation of Wadah Khanfar to the release of Wikileaks documents claiming that Khanfar had close ties with U.S. diplomats and had agreed to remove some content that they had objected to. Al-Jazeera, however, said that Khanfar had been discussing the possibility of stepping down long before the Wikileaks documents were released, and Khanfar himself tweeted that he was "entertained by all the rumors of why I have resigned." In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper, he said, "Our meetings with the U.S. have to be put in context. I have meetings with presidents, meetings with foreign ministers, with representatives of the governments of China, the U.S., Britain, Sudan and other countries in the world. Always we receive complaints. If the complaint has any merit we deal with it. Sometimes we make mistakes. We accept it. But if it's political we don't actually take it into consideration." The suggestion that he willingly accommodated U.S. diplomats would appear to be in stark contrast to official U.S. statements about al-Jazeera coverage in the past. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused al-Jazeera of broadcasting "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" reports about the war in Iraq. Al-Jazeera's offices in Kabul and Baghdad have been hit by U.S. missiles, killing one reporter and injuring others. Former British Home Secretary David Blunkett acknowledged in his memoirs that he had advised Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb al-Jazeera's transmitters.