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Jazeera denies handing Ben Laden tape to US

Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television denied on Thursday having handed the US government an audiotape attributed to militant Osama Ben Laden before it was aired earlier this week. Reports to this effect are “mere slander aimed at discrediting the channel and denting its huge popularity,” chief executive Mohammad Jassem Al Ali told AFP. He professed astonishment at such claims, especially since US media had reported that “the US administration got hold of the text of the tape by eavesdropping on Al Jazeera.” Washington could have bugged the telephone call during which the tape was transmitted to the TV station in Doha, Ali said, adding that Al Jazeera was “used to such accusations whenever it broadcasts exclusives.” US Secretary of State Colin Powell knew what was on Ben Laden’s audio tape before it was aired on Al Jazeera television because key ally Qatar gave Washington an advance copy, an Arab envoy said on Thursday. Full Story

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