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Bahrain to sue The Independent over 'one-sided' reporting

The government of Bahrain intends to sue the British newspaper over its alleged “defamatory and premeditated media campaign” against both it and Saudi Arabia.

British Middle East news journalist Robert Fisk.
British Middle East news journalist Robert Fisk.
Image: FRANCOIS MORI/AP/Press Association Images

THE GOVERNMENT OF Bahrain intends to take legal action against The Independent newspaper over its coverage of protests taking part in the country.

Bahrain has hired a UK-based law firm to pursue The Independent, after accusing the newspaper of orchestrating ”a defamatory and premeditated media campaign” against both it and Saudi Arabia. The Independent’s award-winning war correspondent Robert Fisk has been singled out as one of the main agents who had failed “to abide by professional impartiality and credibility” and displayed ”one-sided news-coverage and reports” according to Bahrain, reports the Guardian.

Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority tweeted last night: “IAA takes legal action against columnist Robert Fisk and The Independent (UK) for repeated falsification of facts and publication of misinformation”.

Fisk penned an article that criticised the Bahraini government for placing 48 surgeons on trial, which the government has decried as as being “based on slanderous hearsay”, the Independent reports. Fisk, 64, accused the country’s ruling Khalifa family of conducting an “an utterly fraudulent trial” of medical personnel who had treated protesters injured after government forces opened fire on them. The doctors, surgeons and nurses have been accused of stockpiling weapons and organising demonstrations.

Fisk end his piece by saying: “Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.”

The Independent has not yet made a reply to the accusations.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, media law consultant David Banks said that The Independent would have a good case, as it could potentially cite the Reynolds defence - which allows journalists to defend defamatory comments made if there is a clear public interest in the allegations raised.

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