Arab network cuts ties with CNN over bin Laden interview

Saturday, February 2, 2002

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- An influential Arab satellite station that chose not to air its own interview with Osama bin Laden cut ties with CNN because the cable network broadcast excerpts, in which bin Laden said that killing innocent civilians "is permissible in Islamic law."

CNN and Al-Jazeera had had an agreement to share material. CNN said the deal gave it the right to all Al-Jazeera's material and it did nothing wrong. Al-Jazeera accused the American network of obtaining the tape illegally.

"Al-Jazeera will sever its relationship with CNN" and will take action against "organizations and individuals who stole this video and distributed it illegally," CNN quoted the Qatar-based station as saying Thursday after airing a story about the videotape.

"It's a shame that it came to that," CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said Friday, "but once the tape came into our hands, it would have been journalistically irresponsible to ignore it."

CNN on Thursday began airing brief excerpts of what it said was a 60-minute interview obtained earlier in the week "from a non-governmental source."

"I think Al-Jazeera has some tough questions to answer" as to why it never made the tape public, Jordan said.

Al-Jazeera officials in Dubai refused comment.

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