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Al-Jazeera's legendary director general resigns

Wadah Khanfar steps down in a move some are linking to Wikileaks revelations of meetings with US Defence Intelligence Agency officers

Zeinab El Gundy, Tuesday 20 Sep 2011
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Wadah Khanfar, Al-Jazeera news network general director, today resigned from his position after eight years of working as a top executive and 15 years at the channel since 1996.

In a farewell note Khanfar said he had been thinking of stepping down for a while and thanked the Al-Jazeera staff as well as its administration, praising them for what they have achieved as a global news network.

"Al-Jazeera gained the trust of its audience through consistently speaking truth to power, and channelling peoples' aspirations for dignity and freedom. Our audience quickly saw that Al-Jazeera was of them and their world,” he said.

He also added that, "this newsroom showed the world the first images of the Asian Tsunami and of the famine in Niger. In 2011, the eyes of the world watched the aspirations of millions unfold as our newsrooms broadcast, tweeted and published the events unfolding in the liberation squares from Sidi Bouzid to Jisr Al-Shughur.

Khanfar also announced the news on his official twitter account.

Some observer are linking Khanfar’s resignation with recently released Wikileaks cables about a meeting in 2005 at the American embassy in Doha between him and US Defence Intelligence Agency officers. Allegedly the officers prepared monthly reports about the channel as well as its website performance and views and discussed them with Khanfar.

The cable fuelled rumours about the relationship between the US and the controversial Qatari news network.

Palestinian Khanfar joined Al-Jazeera Network in 1996 as the channel’s correspondent in South Africa and stayed until 2001. He was the channel’s correspondent in New Delhi from 2001 to 2002, where he reported on Afghanistan when the channel lost contact with their correspondence in Kabul, Tayseer Allouni. Later Khanfar replaced Allouni as Kabul’s bureau chief. Moving from Afghanistan to Iraq he became Baghdad’s bureau chief after the fall of Saddam’s regime. In 2003 he became the managing director of Al-Jazeera Network. In 2006 he was appointed director general of Al-Jazeera Network.

In 2009 Khanfar was chosen by Forbes magazine among the world’s most powerful people.  

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