Bahrain to sue The Independent for 'libel'

15th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Bahrain is suing British daily The Independent for alleged libel after veteran writer Robert Fisk slammed the Gulf kingdom for becoming an extension of Saudi Arabia.

The Information Affairs Authority has appointed a UK-based lawyer to sue the newspaper, the official BNA news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting the acting head of press and foreign media, Nawaf al-Maawda.

"The Independent, through unrealistic stories and provocative op-eds, especially by its writer Robert Fisk, has deliberately targeted Bahrain and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to falsify the truth," BNA quoted him as saying.

The daily reported on Bahrain "without observing objectivity," he charged.

Veteran Middle East correspondent Fisk wrote on Tuesday that tiny Bahrain, ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty has become a "confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain."

Fisk charged that Saudi-led Gulf troops did not wait for a Bahraini invitation when they rolled into Bahrain on the eve of a crackdown on month-long protests demanding democratic change.

"The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini 'security forces' from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man," he wrote.

"They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation."

Fisk also slammed a semi-martial court trying dozens of medics from the Shiite majority, who are accused of backing demonstrations and of exaggerating the gravity of protesters' wounds in front of TV cameras.

"These are the very same doctors and nurses I stood beside four months ago in the Salmaniya emergency room, some of them weeping as they tried to deal with gunshot wounds the like of which they had never seen before," he wrote.

Bahraini authorities came under strong criticism from international rights groups for the heavy-handed clampdown on Shiite protesters.

Some 24 people were killed in the unrest, mainly protesters, while hundreds were arrested and some 2,000 allegedly dismissed from their jobs in an unprecedented repression of the Shiite majority community.

© 2011 AFP

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