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December 8, 2016 6:46 pm

Watchdog Calls Out Major International News Agency for Employing Fatah Activist as Reporter

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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Nasser Abu Baker. Photo: Facebook.

Nasser Abu Baker. Photo: Facebook.

The fact that a reporter for a major international news agency recently ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for a seat on Fatah’s Revolutionary Council represents a “gross conflict of interest and an egregious breach of journalistic ethics,” a US media watchdog group said on Wednesday.

According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Agence France-Presse’s Nasser Abu Baker campaigned for a spot on the council — one of Fatah’s two main governing bodies — during the recently-held Seventh Fatah Congress. Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, controls the Ramallah-headquartered Palestinian Authority.

CAMERA quoted Abu Baker as saying that his decision to seek a seat in the council was rooted in a desire to “awaken the Fatah media, which needs to be awakened so that it would be devoted primarily in favor of the national interest and redirect the compass toward our cause toward Jerusalem and the (right of) return.”

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Earlier this year, as reported in The Algemeiner, CAMERA criticized AFP for employing Abu Baker, who in January was appointed to chair the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate — which CAMERA described as a “leading force for the boycott of Israeli journalists and media.”

In a statement on Wednesday, CAMERA’s Israel director Tamar Sternthal said, “By employing a man who aggressively silences Israeli journalists and perspectives, AFP news about Israel is compromised at best, deceptive at worst. Abu Baker says he wants to awaken Fatah media to ‘favor’ what he thinks is the Palestinian ‘national interest.’ Is that what he’s doing for AFP as well?”

“The role of a real journalist is to tell the facts, not shape the news for jingoistic reasons,” Sternthal continued. “AFP tells the public that it pursues a ‘policy of rigorous neutrality’ and claims to be free of ‘economic or political interests,’ but AFP employs an overt political partisan. Either AFP will take action against Abu Baker’s clear conflict of interest, or its code of ethics should be regarded as mere PR talking points.”

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