Al Jazeera denies replacing India correspondent under government pressure

The Al Jazeera TV news channel says it alone took the decision to replace Nasir Shadid as south Asia correspondent. He was responding to Indian press reports that Shadid was expelled by the Indian government.

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By  David Cass Published  July 9, 2002

The Al Jazeera TV news channel has denied claims, made in Indian newspapers, that its correspondent Nasir Al Shadid has been asked to leave the country. Shadid had been working without official accreditation for more than a year and the Indian authorities did not like his coverage of the Gujarat riots and the escalating tension between India and Pakistan.

His application for accreditation to India’s Press Information Bureau had been rejected but Al Jazeera’s management chose to leave him there. Chief Editor Ibrahim Hilal told ITP.net, “if we start closing offices just because a government does not like our correspondent’s work, we lose credibility. We have incurred the disapproval of many governments and we decide in each case whether to leave the correspondent in situ in defiance of the government or, as in the case of Algeria, to close the bureau altogether.”

“In the case of India we were fortunate to find a top class correspondent to take over from Shadid two months ago and he is now in the process of taking over the post.”

Jazeera’s new man in south Asia is Rafat Yehya, an Egyptian who used to be head of MBC’s Asia bureau. He also used to work for Al Jazeera as a programme producer when the channel first went on air, nearly six years ago.

Hilal said, “It was our decision to replace Nasir. In contrast with what the Indian press is saying our decision had nothing at all to do with the Indian government.”

The chief editor also confirmed that Al Jazeera is to start a simultaneous English language translation service for the channel, scheduled to start in September. He says it will be outsourced to a company which will operate either from Cyprus or London and will be a live voice-over of the existing transmission. The sound will be multiplexed to the satellite on two different channels.

He insists that the decision has no effect on plans for a full English language channel. He confirmed that those plans are still “very much alive” but that the simultaneous translation is a less expensive way to start.

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