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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 11:28 GMT
Networks row over Bin Laden tape
Bin Laden's statement broadcast on Al-Jazeera in October
Previously, Bin Laden's statement were given air time
A row has broken out between the American network CNN and the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera over the broadcasting of an interview with Osama bin Laden.

In the interview, the Saudi-born dissident sidestepped questions of guilt in the 11 September attacks on the US, but said the killing of innocent Americans was justified.

Al-Jazeera does not feel it is obligated to explain its position and its reasoning of why it chose not to air the interview

Al-Jazeera executive
The Bin Laden interview was recorded by Al-Jazeera's Kabul correspondent about six weeks after the suicide attacks on New York and Washington - which the US said Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation was responsible for - but it was not aired.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera accused CNN of obtaining and broadcasting tape illegally and say it is now cutting relations with the American station.

Executives at CNN said Al-Jazeera had decided not to broadcast the hour-long tape as, in its judgement, the interview was not newsworthy.

A CNN statement said the network had done nothing illegal, insisting that an affiliate agreement with Al-Jazeera gave it the express right to use "any and all footage owned or controlled by Al-Jazeera".

Special relationship

Al-Jazeera director-general Mohammed Jassim al-Ali denounced the Atlanta-based CNN for broadcasting the tape.

America's charge that we are carrying out acts of terrorism is unwarranted

Osama Bin Laden
"Al-Jazeera would have expected CNN to use its judgment and respect its special relationship with Al-Jazeera by not airing material that Al-Jazeera itself chose not to broadcast," Mr al-Ali said in a statement.

"Al-Jazeera does not feel it is obligated to explain its position and its reasoning of why it chose not to air the interview," Mr Ali's statement continues.

At the height of the crisis following 11 September, Al-Jazeera was obliged to defend its airing of videotaped statements by Bin Laden after the US Government tried to prevent further broadcasts by asking the government of Qatar to intervene.

There is no indication as to how the interview was obtained or where it was recorded.

'Justified killing'

In the only interview with the al-Qaeda leader since the 11 September attacks, Bin Laden declares that "the battle has moved to inside America".

"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The US Government will lead the American people - and the West in general - into an unbearable hell and a choking life," he says.

Bin Laden's fate is not known, despite an intensive search and heavy US bombing of his hideouts in Afghanistan.

When challenged in the tape about whether he was behind the suicide attacks, which killed thousands of people as hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bin Laden replied:

"America's charge that we are carrying out acts of terrorism is unwarranted."

But later, he justifies the killing of "civilian infidels in exchange for those of our children they kill", saying it is "permissible in Islamic law and logic".

See also:

10 Oct 01 | Middle East
TV station defends Bin Laden coverage
04 Oct 01 | Americas
US urges curb on Arab TV channel
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
War of the airwaves
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