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Hamas targets Ma'an in media tirade

Aug. 25, 2013 10:24 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2013 9:53 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas-run Al-Aqsa satellite channel on Saturday dedicated a one hour talk show to criticizing Ma'an News Agency and its senior employees.

Former chief of Hamas media, Hasan Abu Hashish, presenter Raji al-Hums, and an unknown Jordanian journalist claimed that Ma'an's editor-in-chief Nasser Lahham worked for the Palestinian Authority's preventative security services.

The channel also claimed that the general manager of Ma'an's satellite channel, Muhammad Faraj, ran Ma'an like a security cell working for PA intelligence, and said that the chairwoman of Ma'an's board of directors, Nibal Thawbta, was "suspicious."

The Hamas affiliated channel also criticized Egyptian journalists Ashraf Abu al-Houl and Ashraf Sweilam, claiming they both work for Egyptian intelligence.

Al-Houl is assistant editor-in-chief of al-Ahram newspaper and Sweilam is a Ma'an reporter based in El-Arish, Egypt.

The Hamas panel said Ma'an used "dirty" means, claiming that those who collaborate with the PA security services are no different from those who collaborate with Israel.

Ma'an's editor-in-chief Nasser Lahham issued a brief response to the talk show: "Ma'an News Agency has never hesitated to cooperate with al-Aqsa TV channel respectfully whenever they asked us for a comment. The last time we accepted an invitation to make a comment on al-Aqsa TV was earlier this month. We do not regret that cooperation because we believe in a Marwan Barghouthi's famous phrase 'partners in blood and in decision.'"

However, some journalists working closely with Hamas are harming the movement and its' "history of struggle."

"They are proving day after day that they are the real reason behind the ongoing failure of Hamas in the media and it is those people who make people abandon Hamas."

Hamas closed Ma'an's Gaza bureau on July 25, accusing the news agency of deliberately publishing "false news reports seeking to incite against Gaza."

The attorney general in Gaza also ordered the closure of al-Arabiya's Gaza office, accusing both outlets of disseminating information "unprofessionally."

Human Rights Watch has said that Hamas "should immediately revoke the summary closure of two media offices."

"If the Gaza authorities think that these news outlets have misrepresented them, it should be easy enough to provide accurate information and debunk their stories, but they shouldn't just shut down their critics," said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch.
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