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Mon 13 Jul 2009 03:39 PM

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Al Jazeera's Yemen office faces call for closure

Politician calls for broadcaster's Yemen office to shut over coverage of civil unrest.

A leading Yemen politician has called for authorities to close Al Jazeera’s Sana'a office for threatening the country’s security and stability, it has been reported.

Ali Jusaed Al Lahbi, a member of the ruling General People Congress party, accused the Qatar-based broadcaster of failing to adhere to the country’s press and publication laws.

According to a report in the Yemen Post, the politician said the channel’s coverage of events in southern Yemen had damaged security.

''Nowadays, Al Jazeera [has become] publicly criticised by Yemeni society, because it runs stories which Yemen's enemies completely exploit it especially the secessionists who aim to deform Yemen's image abroad,'' Al Lahbi said.

The paper said Al Jazeera staff had received threats to stop covering recent civil unrest in southern Yemen, adding that it had also received similar threats.

Earlier this month, the Al Jazeera’s director general Wadah Khanfar told Arabian Business media freedoms in the Arab world had not improved since the channel launched 13 years ago.

“I do feel that there is no dramatic change taking place, either forwards or backwards,” Khanfar said at the time.

“Legal implications are very difficult now, actually, in many countries where people can be sued by governments, or they could be put in jail for certain reasons that are related to freedom of expression.”

Al Jazeera has broken a lot of taboos since its launch, with its more critical coverage of Arab governments and women’s rights, a previously untouched subject.

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The Don 11 years ago

It is sad how the ruling party in Yemen is dealing with democracy and civil rights for the Yemeni people in the south. This call for closure is simply like parking on the wrong tree and won't simply ends the unrest. In fact such move would be part of the a bigger plan to launch full scale attack on the southern parts of the country which includes deporting and closing down all international press agencies that will be a witness on what will happen.