Bahrain suspends Al-Jazeera for 'flouting press laws'
Al-Jazeera has a record of tense relations with Arab states over its coverage of sensitive political topics and has induced anger from both the PA and Israel in the past.

Published 19:57 19.05.10
By Reuters

Bahrain has suspended local operations of Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera and barred a crew from traveling to the Gulf Arab state, accusing the channel of flouting press rules.

Al Jazeera, with a record of tense relations with Arab states over its coverage of sensitive political topics, has recently aired programs on poverty and the treatment of Asian laborers, both sensitive matters in Bahrain.

"Bahrain has temporarily frozen the office of the Qatari AlJ-azeera Satellite TV Channel for breaching the professional media norms and flouting the laws regulating the press and publishing," the official Bahrain News Agency said, without giving details.

Officials at Bahrain's Ministry of Information either declined to comment or could not be reached.

A spokesman for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera declined to comment on what were the reasons for the temporary suspension of its Bahraini office.

Observers say the move, while likely sparked by the Al-Jazeera report, may have also reflected tensions between Qatar and Bahrain that have persisted since the two countries settled a dispute over the Hawar islands in 2001.

Last year, the Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera television from operating on its territory, claiming it spread falsehoods and incited viewers against the authorities that run the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Al-Jazeera reportedly quoted PA officials as saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conspired with Israel to kill his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, in 2003.

Israel also clashed with the Qatari broadcaster last year and imposed sanctions on Al-Jazeera after the closure of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosted and funded the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip at the time.

In response, Israel wanted to call the station a hostile entity and close its offices in Israel, though the High Court of Justice did not allow it. Instead, Israel chose to limit the network's activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.