It’s regime change for Al-Jazeera

Former head to stay on board of directors

DUBAI — Al-Jazeera is replacing its topper but insisted the decision was not due to allegations that the Arab satcaster had been infiltrated by Iraqi intelligence.

Spokesman Jihad Ballout said Tuesday that CEO Mohammed Jassem al-Ali, who has headed the Dubai-based channel since its launch eight years ago, would remain on the board of directors.

He “was seconded from Qatar Television to set up and run Al-Jazeera and what has been decided is that this…be ceased and for him to go back to his normal job,” Ballout said.

“Changes take place for various reasons, and for Mohammed Jassem al-Ali to remain on the board means that all these rumors and allegations are not taken at face value whatsoever.”

The U.K.’s Sunday Times said this month that documents uncovered by opponents of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein showed that there were three Iraqi intelligence agents working inside Al-Jazeera with the aim of gaining favorable coverage.

Al-Jazeera, which often aired exclusive material from Iraqi officials during the U.S.-led war, denied the report.

Channel, which has earned the nickname the “Arab CNN” for its slick news style, came under fire from U.S. and British officials for broadcasting TV footage of soldiers slain and imprisoned during the war. But it was also criticized by Iraqi authorities for what they called its pro-American coverage.

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