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Iraq Could Extend Al-Jazeera Closure - 2004-08-08


Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says his government's move to close the Baghdad office of Arabic satellite television channel al-Jazeera for one month could be extended if the station does not revise its programming.

Mr. Allawi says the Iraqi National Security Council order was based on a review of the station's programming by an independent committee. Unless the station can answer his government's complaints, the prime minister has told reporters in Baghdad, the closure order will be extended "automatically."

Iraq's interior minister Falah al-Naqib, who joined Mr. Allawi at his news conference in the capital Saturday says al-Jazeera's broadcasts have incited violence and harmed Iraq's image.

Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, says it will comply with the government's order but continue to report from Iraq.

Officials in Baghdad have denounced television broadcasts showing armed insurgents threatening hostages with death, on the grounds they have contributed to a recent rise in kidnappings. Al-Jazeera has aired such statements, and it has previously broadcast videotaped messages from al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

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