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Iraq Closes Al-Jazeera TV's Baghdad Office - 2004-08-07


The government in Iraq has kicked out the satellite television station al-Jazeera for one month. The prime minister accused the channel of inciting violence.

The shutdown of al-Jazeera's Baghdad office came after repeated criticism of the Arabic satellite channel by Iraqi and U.S. government officials.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says an independent committee has been monitoring al-Jazeera for the last month, and recommended that the channel be kicked out for inciting violence. He was unmoved by reporters' questions about freedom of the press.

"I am not worried about whether al-Jazeera is going to like it or not, because I am answerable, accountable to my people here in Iraq, to prevent the bloodshed, which is happening, and continuously happening in Iraq, and affecting innocent people, civilians, bystanders, friends of Iraq, affecting everyone," Mr. Allawi said.

Mr. Allawi declined to say whether any other stations are being monitored, but Iraqi officials have also recently criticized the Al-Arabiya channel.

A spokesman for al-Jazeera called the decision regrettable and unjustified, but said the station will continue covering Iraq as best it can.

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