Al-Arabiya: Syrians threatened staff

Al-Arabiya TV staff have received death threats from Syrian security agencies over an interview with UN chief Kofi Annan in which he urged Damascus to withdraw from Lebanon by April, the station says.

    Annan said on Al-Arabiya Syria must leave Lebanon by April

    The Dubai-based Arabic station said on Sunday that the threats accompanied

    criticism of the channel in the Syrian state-run daily Tishrin

    "Al-Arabiya expresses its extreme concern over Tishrin

    newspaper's method in accusing the television of treachery. This

    was accompanied with threats directed against a number of our

    colleagues in Beirut," the television said in a statement faxed

    to the media.

    A source at the station, referring to Syrian security

    , said: "There were death threats against Arabiya's staff

    in Beirut by the Syrians."

    Front-page article

    Syrian officials were not immediately available to comment.

    Al-Arabiya said it had aired the interview with Annan in

    full and without interpretation or exaggeration. 

     

    "This incident, along with many other incidents, raises dozens of questions about the mission of this station and the bodies that run and finance it"

    Syrian state-run daily Tishrin

    In it, UN

    Secretary-General Annan urged Syria to withdraw its troops from

    Lebanon by April, when he is due to present a report on the

    situation to the Security Council.

    In a front-page article on Saturday, Tishrin accused Al-A

    rabiya of ignoring later remarks by a UN spokesman who

    said Annan had not been setting a deadline.

    "This incident, along with many other incidents, raises dozens

    of questions about the mission of this station and the bodies

    that run and finance it," Tishrin said about the majority

    Saudi-owned station, which is seen by some Arabs as

    pro-Western.

    Criticism rejected

    Al-Arabiya said the newspaper's criticism was unjustified. 

    "Al-Arabiya has aired interviews with Syrian officials and

    analysts to answer the secretary-general ... as it was keen to

    give a balanced report," the statement added.

    Syria said last week that it would pull back more troops to

    eastern Lebanon in line with a 16-year-old agreement that ended Lebanon's civil war and that it

    was ready to work with the United Nations to implement a

    resolution calling for the removal of Syrian troops.

    International pressure for Syria to quit Lebanon has grown

    since a bomb killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq

    al-Hariri last week.

    Many Lebanese hold Syria responsible for

    his death. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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