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News Headlines - Thursday August 28th 2003
BLAIR SAYS HE WOULD HAVE RESIGNED IF DOSSIER STORY PROVEN
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would have resigned if claims that his Government had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were true.
Giving evidence to the Hutton Inquiry into the death of weapons scientist Dr David Kelly, Blair made no attempt to condemn the Ministry of Defence's strategy that led to the naming of Dr Kelly as the source of the claims. The MOD decided to confirm the name if put to them by journalists.
Taking overall responsibility for the decision making that led to Dr Kelly's name becoming public, he said: "I think the basic view would have been not to offer the name but on the other hand not to mislead people & The trouble was it was fairly obvious the name was going to come out. The most that you were doing with the public statement was a getting a short breathing space."
Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide after being named as the source of BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan's contentious report that sparked a furious reaction from 10 Downing Street.
Referring to Gilligan's story, Blair told the inquiry: "You may not say the story is an attack on my integrity, but in fact that is what the story does, and unless the story is clearly withdrawn, the attack on my integrity remains."
The inquiry continues.
US FURIOUS WITH AL ARABIYA OVER INTERVIEW WITH MASKED IRAQI
The US is outraged with Arabic TV network Al Arabiya after it aired a broadcast by a masked Iraqi who threatened to kill his country's US-formed governing council and its supporters.
Washington urged the owners of the Dubai-based station to act responsibly and prevent such "incitement to murder and terrorism".
UN URGED TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS' IN IRAQ
The UN has been urged to match its commitment to protect civilians and aid workers in Iraq by providing equal levels of protection for journalists working in war zones.
The International Federation of Journalists made the call after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on the protection of UN workers.
It comes as BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar revealed that the corporation has assigned 'safety officers' to its news teams because post-war Baghdad is so dangerous.
IFJ general secretary Aidan White said. "We want to see the same commitment by states to the protection of journalists and media staff who are now among the most vulnerable of civilians groups in Iraq and other conflict zones."
"We cannot forget that journalists and media staff are among the most vulnerable groups in modern conflict."
White added: "There have been 17 deaths in Iraq already. All parties involved in armed conflict must protect journalists and recognise their status as independent, neutral observers."
PAKISTANI JOURNALIST ACCUSES CANADIAN POLICE OF RACISM
A Pakistani journalist has accused police in Canada of racism after he was arrested and searched during a routine stop for a minor traffic violation.
An ethics committee is investigating the detention of Mian Zahid Ghani, the New York correspondent for Pakistan's international news agency, during a trip to visit his son in Montreal.
ABC RADIO AND TV STAFF STRIKE OVER PRESENTER'S BAN
Hundreds of employees at Australia's national radio and TV broadcaster ABC stopped work in Sydney in protest at the suspension of a presenter who had written an article for a major newspaper.
More than 300 staff downed tools to take a vote on whether to take further industrial action if the Religion Report's presenter Stephen Crittenden was not given his job back.
Crittenden was suspended six weeks ago for "serious misconduct" after his article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.
GAMBIAN GOVERNMENT CONDEMNED OVER RADIO STATION CLOSURE
The Gambian government has been condemned for forcing the closure of an independent radio station.
Citizen FM in Banjul has not broadcast for more than two years after the government of President Yahya Jammeh claimed its owner Baboucar M Gaye had not paid his taxes and licence fees.
A spokesman for the Media Institute of Southern Africa said: "We believe this accusation to be a blatant fabrication.
"Citizen FM has not been charged in court, nor has it been ordered by any court to cease broadcasting based on the authorities' accusations.
COLOMBIAN RADIO JOURNALIST ARRESTED FOR 'REBELLION'
A human rights group has condemned the arrest of a broadcast journalist in Colombia on suspicion of aiding a "rebellion".
Reporters Without Borders said radio journalist Emiro Goyeneche was held in the Arauca province on suspicion of collaborating with leftist guerrillas.
"The accusations against him are only based on the word of supposed guerrilla deserters and the use of such evidence could lead to serious legal errors," Robert Ménard, Reporters Without Borders general secretary said.