Al Jazeera chief vows to uncover Bush truth

By Caitlin Pike

Al
Jazeera’s managing director has vowed to “spare no effort” in finding
out the truth about US President George W Bush’s alleged desire to bomb
the television station’s Qatar headquarters. He added that if he was in
possession of the Downing Street memo he would air its contents.

Speaking
in London this week, Wadah Khanfar said that following the publication
of the story in the Daily Mirror last week about President Bush’s
apparent plan to bomb Al Jazeera he had come to Britain to seek
meetings with officials to find out the truth. “The Daily Mirror report
was shocking for all of us. We are very concerned about it,”

he said.

“This
concerns our very lives – you are talking about, at any time in Al
Jazeera, 200 civilian journalists from a variety of backgrounds,
including British and American journalists.”

Khanfar said he had, as of Tuesday night, been offered no meetings with any senior Government representatives.

Despite
Al Jazeera’s bureaux being attacked in Kabul and Baghdad in 2001 and
2003 respectively, Khanfar said he had no idea that the US would want
to attack them. “We are seeking an investigation about the attacks we
suffered in Kabul and Baghdad and have received no explanation or
apology from the Americans, but it had never crossed our minds that
they would have plotted to bomb us in Qatar,” he said.

Khanfar
said his television station was seeking legal advice and that it would
pursue through legal means both the British and US Governments for an
explanation of the alleged threat to its security. He said: “We will
spare no effort to seek the truth on this matter. We are working with
our lawyers on this.”

He added: “We will never turn our editorial
line – for the last nine years we have struggled to achieve the concept
of freedom of expression in the Middle East.”

When asked whether
Khanfar would make public contents of the top secret Downing Street
memo he replied: “Yes we would make its contents public.”

Former
BBC foreign correspondent Martin Bell, who chaired the Frontline Club
debate at which Khanfar was speaking, said: “There is no more important
issue than this on the journalism agenda.”

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