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The New Arab Staff

Ofcom penalises Abu Dhabi TV for interview with Qatari detainee

Jaidah was detained in the UAE between 2013 and 2015 [Qatar TV]

Date of publication: 10 November, 2020

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A Qatari rights organisation has praised Ofcom for its decision to penalise Abu Dhabi TV after it aired an 'unethical interview' with a detainee.
The UK's media regulator has taken action against Abu Dhabi TV for broadcasting an interview with a former Qatari detainee.

Ofcom ruled that the UAE-based channel violated its policies for airing the interview, which was conducted against the will of Mahmoud Al-Jaidah, a Qatari medical doctor who was detained in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

The media regulator also confirmed it would impose legal sanctions on the channel, prompting praise from a Doha-based rights organisation.

"[We consider] this decision as an initial step in achieving justice and redress for the Qatari citizen, who has been subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and degrading treatment by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi TV which accused him and the state of Qatar of terrorism," the National Human Rights Committee said in a statement.

Ofcom's decision is "a historical precedent that paves the way for deterring such channels from using the media to spread hatred, spread lies and promote gross human rights violations", NHRC continued.

Al-Jaidah was detained in the UAE between 2013 and 2015.

He was said to have been tortured and a false confession extracted from him which was used in a documenatary alleging Qatari support for terrorism - something strongly denied by Doha. 

Several years later in 2018, Al-Jaidah filed a complaint with Ofcom, prompting the regulator to launch an investigation into the case.

Responding to the ruling, Al-Jaidah said: "I am happy with this decision, which is the first step to justice. I have been subjected to severe torture and insulting treatment by the Emirati security and the Abu Dhabi channel which tried to demonise me by linking me and my country to terrorism."

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in 2017 and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the Gulf state claiming Doha supported extremist groups and its ties to Iran - Saudi Arabia's regional arch-rival.

Qatar vehemently denies the charges.

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