Disgraced British journalist Johann Hari, whose portrayal of
Dubai included describing the city as being built on “suppression and slavery”,
would be welcome to visit the emirate again, Dubai Police said Monday.
The award-winning journalist, who has been caught up in an
internet storm over allegations of plagiarism, would not face investigation for
insulting the UAE and its ruling families, a spokesperson said.
“He is welcome in Dubai,” the spokesperson said, adding a
second visit would allow Hari to “get a better idea of what the city is really
Hari’s 8,860-word article ‘The Dark Side of Dubai’ was published
in the wake of the financial crash, and portrayed a “morally bankrupt” city
with “abusive laws” and authorities complicit in the ill-treatment of workers.
The copy made headlines in the Gulf in 2009, after
describing the city as being built on “credit and ecocide, suppression and
“It’s a medieval dictatorship” a source named Karen is
quoted as saying in the article.
It is illegal in the UAE to insult the government and ruling
families or threaten state security and public order.
Hari was last month accused of lifting quotes from past
interviews and books to use in his copy without attributing the source, prompting
his paper, The Independent, to suspend him.
Further allegations claimed Hari used an online alias to
edit Wikipedia entries for journalists that criticised his work.
Hari, a winner of the George Orwell prize for political
journalism, denied accusations of plagiarism but said he “did have something to
apologise for” after admitting using quotes from books and previous interviews
“so the reader knew what the subject thinks in the most comprehensible possible
Judges for the prestigious Orwell prize are understood to be
reaching a decision as to whether Hari would be stripped of the award, in light
of the allegations. The Independent has said it is conducting an internal
investigation into the claims.
Media colleagues have been quick to reject Hari’s
explanation for utilising quotes from other sources in his copy without
Telegraph blogger Toby Young wrote: “If his overwhelming
concern is clarity and accuracy, shouldn't he be clear about the fact that the
interviewee hasn't given that quotation to him?”
Hari spoke about the allegations more recently in a talk he
gave on free speech on July 7 at the Royal Institution in London, admitting he “did
“The real test of free speech is not to support it when
people are saying you’re great, it’s do you support it when people are saying
something painful and humiliating about you. And I absolutely do.”
On his website, the columnist describes himself as an
“award-winning journalist, who writes twice-weekly for the Independent, one of
Britain's leading newspapers, and the Huffington Post.”
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