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As Israel bans Al Jazeera, UN defends free press

By AFP

May 6, 2024 11:04 PM


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The United Nations defended freedom of the press Monday as it commented on Israel's decision to shut down the Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday his government had decided unanimously to close the channel, and hours later it went off-air in the country.

Al Jazeera has been the focus of months of criticism by Netanyahu and his government in the latest round of a long-running feud that began well before Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza.

"Regarding the closure of the Al Jazeera office in Israel," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's office, "we've made it clear that we stand firmly against any decision to roll back freedom of the press."

"A free press provides an invaluable service to ensure that the public is informed and that the public is engaged," he added.

Israel's Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said he had issued the order to shutter the channel, confiscate equipment and restrict broadcasting to Al Jazeera's websites in a separate joint statement with Netanyahu.


AFP


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