New York, June 23, 2017–A group of Arab countries today issued Qatar a list of demands, including that the Gulf nation close media outlets that it funds, among them the broadcasters Al-Jazeera and Arabi 21, and the websites Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye. The demands are a prerequisite for lifting diplomatic and economic sanctions imposed by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, according to The Associated Press.
“CPJ condemns the use of news outlets as a bargaining chip and calls on all countries involved in this dispute to stop holding media hostage to political disputes,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The Gulf region needs a vibrant free press and news outlets based there must be allowed to report freely.”
News outlets have been targeted throughout the political tension, with authorities in Saudi Arabia and Jordan revoking Al-Jazeera’s operating license and Bahrain and UAE announcing prison terms for anyone reporting sympathetically on Qatar, CPJ has found.