Monday, October 10, 2011

Al Jazeera vindicated over leaked documents

UK regulator rejects Saeb Erakat's complaint that network's coverage of the Palestine Papers invaded his privacy.

"The UK broadcasting regulator has ruled that Al Jazeera English did not breach any broadcasting rules during its coverage of the Palestine Papers in January 2011.

The verdict followed an investigation by Ofcom into a complaint lodged by Saeb Erakat, the Palestinians' former chief negotiator, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) after Al Jazeera published more than 1,600 confidential documents detailing Israeli-Palestinian talks over the past decade.

Erakat, who resigned in February, said the publication of the papers had breached his privacy and that of the PLO.

But Ofcom ruled on Monday that the "the public interest outweighed this expectation of privacy and considered that the obtaining and use of the material was warranted".

The papers included high-level minutes of meetings involving the US, European, Israeli and the Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and highlighted how the PA had offered unprecedented land and security concessions to the Israelis, including the "biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history", going much further to accommodate Israel than the public had ever known.

Welcoming the Ofcom ruling, Ahmad bin Jasem Al Thani, Al Jazeera's Director General, said: "This is a resounding vindication of our journalism, our decision to release the papers, and our handling of it.

"Ofcom's decision on the claim of an infringement of privacy is a particularly important one. It is the job of journalists to challenge the decisions taken by people in positions of public accountability, and to shine a light in the corridors where important decisions are being taken."...."

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