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Al Jazeera sacks senior editor

Qatari-based news channel Al Jazeera is in the spotlight again after sacking its English web site senior editor, former Daily Express reporter Yvonne Ridley.

Qatari-based news channel Al Jazeera is in the spotlight again after sacking its English web site senior editor, former Daily Express reporter Yvonne Ridley.

Ridely, who joined Al Jazeera in July this year, claims the dismissal was completely unexpected. She confirmed to Arabian Business that she would be fighting the dismissal until it was satisfactorily resolved and is taking legal advice.

Yvonne Ridley gained fame during the Afghanistan war after being captured by Taliban forces whilst dressed in traditional burka and subsequently converting to Islam.

Sources within the company are suggesting that the dismissal came about after Ridley championed more rights for journalists within the English language side of the organisation.

In the weeks running up to the dismissal, Ridley was also involved in helping 17 out of the 21-strong Al Jazeera English team join the UK-based National Union of Journalists (NUJ). This may well have caused some consternation in a country where unions are strictly forbidden.

"It is incredible that Al Jazeera, which has set itself up as the modern pan Arab TV news channel, is behaving, in terms of management, like the worst kind of feudal ruler," said Tim Gopsill, press spokesman for the NUJ.

Despite this, Ridley was quick to point out that she did not believe her dismissal was down to the increased number of union members, as the web site's managing editor, Ahmed Sheikh, was an active member of the NUJ.

Al Jazeera spokesman Jhad Ballout would not be drawn on how Ridley was dismissed, but was bemused as to why the incident was attracting so much attention.

"Her superiors made a judgment call that perhaps she didn't fit with the operation after all and they asked to terminate her employment. It's a professional thing rather than anything else."

Nobody was willing to speculate as to what the outcome would be, but the likelihood is that some kind of settlement between the parties will be worked out.

Despite the acrimonious end with Al Jazeera, Ridley remains relatively positive about her experience, claiming that it gave her a new lease of life.

"It was fantastic. I think some people thought it was going to be just a cut and paste wire operation, but I turned it into something else," she said.

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