George Galloway paid £80k for joining 'pro-Syria' TV channel
Bradford West MP presents fortnightly show for al-Mayadeen, allegedly funded by Syria and Iran
THE Respect MP George Galloway has joined an Arabic TV station that is allegedly funded by Iran and Syria. Galloway is set to earn almost £80,000 a year from his latest broadcasting venture, reports The Times.
Galloway, who once described President Assad's regime as "the last bastion of Arab dignity", has started presenting a fortnightly show, A Free Word, for the Beirut-based broadcaster al-Mayadeen.
According to the Register of Members’ Interests, Galloway will earn £3,000 an episode – or a yearly income of £78,000 - on top of his MP’s salary. The TV station will also cover the cost of regular trips to Lebanon to pre-record the programme.
Galloway, who represents Bradford West in the Commons, also presents a weekly slot on the Iranian state-owned media corporation Press TV but the job is currently unpaid.
Al-Mayadeen is "completely independent" according to station director Ghassan bin Jiddo. "We do not speak in the name of Iran or the Syrian regime," he says.
But since the channel’s launch in June, several critics have accused it of being pro-Syria and there has been speculation about its backers, with one local media analyst claiming it is funded by Iran as well as by a cousin of President Assad. Several station executives are said to have links with the Assad regime as well as the pro-Syrian Lebanese militia, Hezbollah.
Galloway has already used his show to denounce the motives of international powers who support the anti-Assad uprising. In one programme he described the West's leaders as modern Crusaders, saying: "I am with the Syrian people’s legitimate demands but I will never support the destruction of Syria. I will never support the invitation to the Crusaders to come back to Syria."
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, told the Times Galloway should be held to account. "Firstly, what are the editorial policies of this channel and the agenda of its owners?" he asked. "Secondly, what is this Arabic channel expecting from Galloway and why, as a British MP, is he doing it? Are there many British voters watching?"