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IAA briefing on Al Wasat Newspaper
06 : 26 PM - 05/04/2011
Manama, April 5 (BNA) -- The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) discussed today the case of Al Wasat daily which fabricated news reports with false pictures and names and which was aired on Bahrain Television last Saturday.
In a press conference held here today, IAA official spokesperson Maysoon Sabkar said that the Information Affairs Authority received information from a journalist indicating that Al Wasat newspaper was breaking Law 47 /2002 regarding press, printing and publishing regulations in Bahrain.
Based on the information acquired through a thorough investigation that lasted several days, and with the help provided by the journalist, the fabricated news reports with false pictures and names were discovered and subsequently broadcast on Bahrain TV.

Simultaneously, the Information Affairs Authority undertook close monitoring of all news published in all local newspapers. The sources of some of the local and international coverage were verified.

On Tuesday March 29, 2011, the Information Affairs Authority decided to host a talk show on the topic of the responsibilities of the national press in light of the current conditions, which was scheduled to be broadcast live on Thursday March 31st.

On Wednesday March 30, an announcement was published in the local newspapers announcing the talk show. During this show, it was intended to present the evidence of fabricated reports to the editor-in-chief of Al Wasat on air.

Due to unavailability of the guests and editors-in-chief on the initially scheduled date, the show was postponed to Saturday April 2nd.

However, the editor-in-chief of Al Wasat, Dr. Mansoor Al Jamri, once again regretted his attendance to the show on Saturday, saying that the scheduled timing coincided with his evening work responsibilities. The show was aired and evidence of the fabricated news was presented to the viewers.

During the talk show, the presenter received a telephone call from Mr.Sultan Al Maliki, a journalist from the Saudi online portal Sabq who confirmed that a news report published by Al Wasat had been plagiarized from the portal. Mr. Al Maliki demanded an apology from Al Wasat.

The talk show also received several telephone calls from within Bahrain and abroad which condemned the unethical practices implemented by Al Wasat.

In order to check the authenticity of the names mentioned in the articles, an official from Kanoo Health Centre was contacted, she stated that: "Following a thorough review of the names of all the patients who visited the centre on March 27, 2011 and a scrutiny of all records at the reception and the pharmacy, no patients were found who matched the name of Nasser Abdali Hussain Hubail. The review of the names and records was extended to the morning, afternoon and evening shifts, but no such name was found and no-one with that name visited the centre at any time."

The talk show also presented the correspondence from the President of the Central Informatics Organization (CIO) to the Head of the Office of the President of the Information Affairs Authority, which stated that some of the names published in the newspaper were not names of actual persons registered in Bahrain as of March 30, 2011.

In its efforts to present the facts to the public, Bahrain News Agency (BNA), posted Al Wasat’s violations on its website as the talk show was being aired to ensure that the public had direct access to all evidence, site links, news reports and images.

One day after the talk show was aired, Bahrain News Agency contacted the chairman of the board of Al Wasat newspaper, Bahraini businessman Mr Farooq Al Moayyed to inquire about the decisions of Al Wasat’s board following the broadcasting of the report on Bahrain Television.

Mr. Al Moayyad said that the editor-in-chief had admitted his responsibility and had failed to verify the reports before publishing them.

The Al Wasat board has replaced Dr Mansoor Al Jamri, the editor-in-chief, and named Mr. Obaydli Al Obaydli as the new editor in chief. The board also discharged the editor and the editor of local news.

The Information Affairs Authority, based on the violations found, has filed a case based on Law 47/2002 on regulating press, printing and publishing.

The public prosecution is currently taking the necessary legal measures.
W H Q.
BNA 1420 GMT 2011/04/05
Number of readings : 6040        Last updated : 06 : 26 PM - 05/04/2011