Iraq Gov. Sets up Media Monitor After AP Uses Bogus Source

December 2nd, 2006 2:33 PM

The Iraq government has set up an agency to monitor false news coming out of Iraq. After the Associated Press used a government source that doesn't exist, the government wants to make sure the AP and other media outlets cannot get away with similar fraudulent activity. Reports the UK Guardian.

Iraq's interior ministry has formed a press monitoring unit in response to what it described as "fabricated and false news" that misrepresents the country's security situation.

Singling out the Associated Press for criticism, spokesman Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said yesterday that dedicated unit would monitor news coverage and even initiate legal action if journalists do not correct stories it believes to be incorrect.

"Fabricated and false news hurts and gives the Iraqis a wrong picture that the security situation is very bad, when the facts are totally different," he said.

He added that the media should consult the ministry's large public relations department staff for "real, true news".

Brig Gen Khalaf referred to an AP story last week describing an attack on a mosque in north-west Baghdad in which six Sunni Muslims were burnt to death.

He said the ministry said it had no records of a Captain Jamil Hussein who had been quoted in the story, and that someone dressed in the ministry's uniform may have given a false name to the reporter in exchange for money.

He also said the ministry had found no evidence of the attack or witnesses.

The ministry' was backed up by the public affairs department of the US military who demanded that the AP's story be retracted.