Ex-employee: Al Jazeera provided Syrian rebels with satphones
The channel paid $50,000 for smuggling phones and other tools across the Syrian border to ensure they would get an inside picture, claims Ali Hashim. A month ago, Hashim and two other correspondents working for Al Jazeera in Lebanon, stepped down from their jobs over a dispute over how the Arab Spring should be covered. Reporting popular unrest in Bahrain and Syria revealed the acutest differences between the men and their employer.“The channel was taking a certain stance. It was meddling with each and every detail of reports on the Syrian revolution. At the same time it was almost covering up what was going on in Bahrain,” recalls Hashim.The journalist says Qatar authorities actually decided the channel’s agenda and created their own version of the Syrian crisis. “We went to the border between Lebanon and Syria. There it became obvious that militants entered Syria from Lebanon to clash with the Syrian regular army, which was 3 kilometers away from the border,” Hashim told RT.“We took photos of those people, but the channel declined them. I was asked to forget about the militants and to return to Beirut,” he says.In an earlier interview with the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, Hashim called Al Jazeera’s policy “informational suicide.” The Syrian government has repeatedly slammed the unbalanced coverage of the uprising by some Arab news channels. But Hashim remarks that both sides of this conflict are playing dirty: while some media are siding with the rebels, omitting reports of the militants’ atrocities against civilians, the Syrian regime’s media behave as if there were no calls for freedoms and reforms in the country.Syria has been engulfed by a popular uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad for over a year now. Opposition forces submit daily claims of people killed in fights with regular forces. The reports are hard to verify as the state remains closed to most foreign journalists. Nonetheless, the UN estimates over 9,000 people have died in the conflict. The Syrian authorities maintain they are fighting foreign insurgency, which has taken lives of over 2,000 troops.