When readers in the U.S. click on this hyperlink, they’ll be taken to an Al Jazeera America op-ed criticizing Saudi Arabia for an uptick in executions of prisoners for apparently political reasons. When international readers click it, they’ll get a 404 error. According to Al Jazeera itself, this discrepancy is by design.
The Intercept reports that Al Jazeera, a media network funded by the Qatari government, appears to be blocking its own readers from reading the article, which was penned by Georgetown Law professor Arjun Sethi. An Al Jazeera representative told Okaz, a Saudi paper, that the network would remove the piece to avoid offending the Saudi government, a Qatari ally, and apologized for its publication in the first place.
The decision to self-censor is certainly bizarre, but it isn’t totally without precedent at Al Jazeera: The Intercept notes several previous instances, including one that resulted in several staffers resigning in protest, of coverage that was apparently influenced by the politics of emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the monarch who rules Qatar.
And although its representatives had already admitted to the foreign press that it was pulling the article, Al Jazeera was oddly reluctant to admit to the breach of journalistic ethics to the Intercept’s reporter. When asked about the apparent takedown, the network wrote in a statement, “After hearing from users from different locations across the world that several of our web pages were unavailable, we have begun investigating what the source of the problem may be and we hope to have it resolved shortly.”