Al Arabiya News is an Arabic language news and current affairs channel. The Ofcom licence for Al Arabiya News is held by Al Arabiya News Channel FZ-LLC (the “Licensee”).
Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al Arabiya News on 27 February 2016.
The programme reported on an attempt made in February and March 2011, by a number of people including the complainant, Mr Hassan Mashiama, to change the governing regime in Bahrain from a Kingdom to a Republic. It included an interview with Mr Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction.
The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture. During Mr Mashaima’s subsequent retrial and appeal, he maintained that his conviction should be overturned, as confessions had been obtained from him under torture.
In Ofcom’s Adjudication published on 24 April 2017 in issue 327 of the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin (PDF, 1.6 MB), Ofcom’s Executive found that the programme had breached Rules 7.1 and 8.1 of the Code.
Ofcom’s Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again.