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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 01:02 GMT 02:02 UK
US condemns Arab TV channel

By David Bamford
BBC correspondent in Washington

The United States has strongly criticised an Arabic satellite television network for showing masked men who threatened to kill members of the American-appointed governing council in Iraq.

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television on Tuesday broadcast video footage showing a group of men wearing hoods over their faces.

US soldiers in Iraq
US forces in Iraq face constant hit-and-run attacks
They were heard to threaten the lives of those serving on the governing council in Baghdad and of any Iraqis who co-operated with the American-led administration.

The State Department spokesman, Philip Reeker, condemned the broadcast.

"We find al-Arabiya's decision to air the remarks of these masked terrorists to be irresponsible in the extreme," he said.

"We have to question why an organisation claiming to be a legitimate news service would effectively provide this conduit for terrorists to communicate plans, tactics and incitement to murder and to attempt to disrupt the peaceful aspirations of the Iraqi people."

Mr Reeker said the US Government was instructing its embassies to convey the Bush administration's outrage to those who supported or had invested in al-Arabiya.

US criticism of Arab satellite television networks is not new.

Al-Arabiya, al-Jazeera and others have been condemned in the past for broadcasting al-Qaeda messages or over their coverage of the Iraq war.

But this warning was unusually harsh and the implied threat to seek to cut off a network's funding appears to be new.

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