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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 13:31 GMT
US 'blocking Arab freedom report'
Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq
Sections on the US occupation of Iraq reportedly upset Washington
The editor of a UN survey of freedom and governance in Arab societies says the US has impeded its publication.

Nader Fergani said the US objected to sections of the document on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He said it had been threatening to cut its contribution to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

A US spokesman denied that his country had asked for a postponement of publication. The UNDP said reports of threats to its funding were inaccurate.

But Mr Fergani - who also says the Egyptians have objected to the report's assessment of political freedom in Egypt - believes the report will not come out under the UNDP logo.

The Arab scholars who prepared it are meeting in Beirut next week to discuss publishing it under their own names.

"My understanding is that the UNDP will not publish it under its logo, but they will not prevent it from being published under the names of the authors," said Mr Fergani.

"It seems that the pressure that was put on the UNDP was too heavy to bear."

Frank and comprehensive

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says this year's report is the third in a much-acclaimed series of studies commissioned by the UNDP.

The reports, she says, are the work of dozens of independent Arab scholars who dissected their own societies to present a frank and comprehensive picture of their weaknesses and failings.

US state department spokesman Tom Casey said: "We have not seen a draft of the forthcoming Arab Human Development report. We have not urged deferral or postponement of the report, as has been alleged."

A UNDP statement said the report was in the "final stages of preparation".

It went on: "While at different times, concerns have been raised by some governments about the content of the forthcoming report, no formal discussions on editorial content have taken place, no government has asked for their suppression."

Press reports that Washington had threatened to cut future funding for UNDP over the report "are inaccurate," it added.

Details of the abuse outlined in the memos

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02 Jul 02 |  Middle East

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