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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Al-Jazeera chief 'sacked'
Bin Laden delivers a message via al-Jazeera
Al-Jazeera has broadcast exclusive statements by Osama Bin Laden
The controversial Arab satellite television station al-Jazeera has replaced its chief executive but said the move was not linked to reports that it had been infiltrated by Iraqi intelligence.

Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said Mohammed Jassem al-Ali was handing over day-to-day management but would remain on the board of directors.

"Mohammed Jassem al-Ali was seconded from Qatar Television to set up and run al-Jazeera and what has been decided is that this secondment be ceased and for him to go back to his normal job," Mr Ballout told Reuters news agency.

"Changes take place for various reasons and for Mohammed Jassem al-Ali to remain on the board means that all these rumours... about Jazeera are not taken at face value whatsoever," he added.

Mr Ali has been in charged of the Qatar-based station since it was launched in 1996.

'Special status'

Earlier this month, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said documents discovered in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein showed that three Iraqi agents had been working for al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera Newsroom
The broadcast of footage showing US POWs angered America

The station, which often aired exclusive material from Iraqi officials during the US-led war, denied the report.

The station was strongly criticised by American and British officials for showing footages of killed coalition soldiers and prisoners of war.

Unlike any other foreign media, al-Jazeera enjoyed a special status in pre-war Iraq, being allowed to work independently of the Iraqi minders.

But during the conflict, Iraqi officials accused al-Jazeera of pro-American coverage and the station's reporters were temporarily banned from reporting in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera came to prominence after the 11 September attacks in the US by broadcasting exclusive audio and video messages from al-Qaeda's leader Osama Bin Laden.

Al-Jazeera: News channel in the news
29 Mar 03  |  Middle East

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