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The New Arab

WikiLeaks' Assange: Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya network 'publishing fabrications' about Qatar

Julian Assange accused Saudi-owned Al Arabiya network of publishing "absurd" news [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2017

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Julian Assange on Monday accused the Saudi-owned network of publishing "increasingly absurd fabrications" against Qatar.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya network of publishing "absurd" news against Qatar, citing one of its latest alleged fabrications in a tweet on Monday.

Assange denied claims made by the Dubai-based news site that he withheld "dangerous cables" from alleged meetings between officials from Qatar, Israel and the US to incite unrest in Egypt.   

The Al Arabiya report accused Assange of receiving "huge sums of money" from Qatar to withhold the alleged cables.

"The Al Arabiya network (HQ in UAE) has been publishing increasingly absurd fabrications as the UAE v Qatar dispute continues. One from today," Assange tweeted, highlighting the extract from the false news report.

The flashpoint for the crisis was the publication of bogus statements on Doha's state news agency, saying Qatar's emir had spoken fondly of Iran.

Doha immediately denounced the statements and said its media group had been hacked. However, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt responded by cutting diplomatic ties and imposing a blockade on Qatar.

Earlier this month, Al Arabiya TV aired an animated report suggesting Qatar Airways passenger aircraft would be shot down if they were to enter Saudi airspace.

The questionable report, which Qatar says terrorises travellers, was widely circulated online and has since gained international condemnation.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras told The Independent it was "irresponsible and unprofessional" for the Saudi network to air the graphic animation, but that it was a sensationalist move rather than an official Saudi threat.

"Passengers flying in the Middle East region should have no fear or worry about the safety of their aircraft," he said.

Sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt included a ban on Qatar using the bloc's ports and airspace.

The air traffic restrictions have caused headaches for the 2.4 million residents of Qatar, 90 percent of whom are foreign citizens, as flights were forced to take longer routes.

Doha has lobbied international aviation bodies to intervene. 

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