A demand by Gulf States and Egypt that Qatar should shut down the Al Jazeera television network as one of the conditions for ending a partial blockade is “an unacceptable act of blackmail”, Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday.
The Paris-based media rights group noted that the pan-Arab news network has been “accused of bias and of acting as Qatar’s mouthpiece”.
RSF said: “Al Jazeera has nonetheless revolutionised the Arab media world since its creation in 1996 by providing a forum to all of the region’s political tendencies.”
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge that Doha denied.
The emirate’s official Qatar News Agency published a list of demands that it said had been handed over by Kuwait, which is seeking to mediate in the dispute.
They included stopping support for Islamist groups and cutting diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival Iran, as well as shutting down Al Jazeera and other media outlets.
US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said on Sunday that Qatar, which hosts a major US military base, was carrying out a “careful review” of the demands.