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Iraq: Al-Jazeera And Al-Arabiyah May Be Banned

Prague, 23 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Members of the Iraqi Governing Council say the U.S.-backed organization intends to take actions against two Arab satellite broadcasting companies -- Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah. "The New York Times" quotes council member Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i as saying they decided yesterday to issue an order expelling the networks from Iraq and planned to make the order public today.

AP quotes a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress (Entifadh K. Qanbar), a key party to the council, as saying a decision to evict the stations was made yesterday.

But the French Agence France Press, quoting council member Samir Shakir Mahmud, says the council will announce "tough and dissuasive" measures aimed at the satellite television stations, without elaborating.

The reports also say that U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, who chose the 25-member council, holds a veto over its actions.

The reports were not independently confirmed and the council has not made any announcement yet.

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah networks have given blanket coverage of events in Iraq, often highly critical of the U.S.-led occupation of the country.