Wednesday, July 11, 2007

UK Press Watchdog To Investigate War Hype Story

By Cernig

The UK's Press Complaints Commission is to investigate the Guardian newspapers Sunday edition for a possible breach of the journalistic codes of Accuracy and Opportunity to Reply in its reporting on Iran.
On June 10, the Sunday Observer published a front page story, entitled "MI6 probes UK link to nuclear trade with Iran". (1) The story alleged the discovery by the MI6 and the Customs and Excise of a nuclear conspiracy in which highly enriched uranium from Russia was trans-shipped through Sudan "destined" for Iran, suspected for use in Iran's "nuclear weapons programme".

There were references throughout the article to claims of anonymous "investigators" without any supporting evidence or attempt to substantiate these allegations. There was also open reference to "Iran's nuclear weapons programme" which is significant in the absence of any such claim or evidence from the IAEA inspectors. There was a recent precedence to this by another incriminating story (2) in the Guardian, 22 May, by Simon Tisdall, which accused Iran of a "Secret Plan for Summer Offensive to Force US out of Iraq", again using an unnamed US official as evidence.

Mehrnaz Shahabi of CASMII UK said today:

"This absence of care in journalistic duty is particularly significant because not only does it resonate very closely with the propaganda that paved the way to the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq and its tragic human consequences, but it highlights an intensification of the war propaganda against Iran and the emergence of a dangerous shift, in that, now it is the mainstream liberal press such as the Guardian and the Observer, who enjoy a fair degree of respect and trust even amongst the anti-war readership, which seem to have been employed to disseminate Pentagon's agenda".
The investigation may also look into the origins of the piece.

Here's the original article. I called it a "smelly story" when it first appeared and still think its most likely origin was in the Fouth Branch of the U.S. government.

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