In Depth

CIA torture report: how did the Middle Eastern press react?

It provoked soul-searching in Britain and the US, but many Arabic news sources ignored the report

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The US Senate report detailing "enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA has been widely discussed in the British press, but few media outlets in the Arab world have devoted much space to it.

Although many of the mistreated prisoners identified in the report came from the Middle East, including a good number from countries that the US considers to be allies in the war on terror, most publications appear to have ignored what the Senate had to say. Others have mentioned the report only briefly.

Who covered the report?

Al Jazeera Arabic has the most extensive coverage of the Senate report among Arab-language sources. It has so far published a number of articles explaining the methods of interrogation used in US-run prisons, as well as the names and nationalities of two tortured prisoners: Abu Zubaydah from Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti national Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The CIA used violent interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah, a member of al Qaeda, even though he was critically ill, Al Jazeera says. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the masterminds of 9/11 attack on the US, was waterboarded.

Who ignored it?

At least two prisoners mentioned in the report came from Saudi Arabia, the home of several big Middle Eastern media outlets.

One of them, Al Arabiya, chose not to mention the names or nationalities of the tortured prisoners, nor how they were treated in American captivity. Instead, it concentrated on the reaction of US policy-makers and officials. An article published on its website is titled: "After exposing CIA torture report ... Obama says: when we commit a mistake we admit it".

Another Saudi media outlet, Al Sharq Al Awsat, had nothing to say about the report. Its main headline today referred to a routine joint military exercise in Saudi Arabia between the Saudi Royal Marines and the US Marines.

The Kuwaiti media scene is similar to that of Saudi Arabia. A major Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai had nothing to say about a Kuwaiti national Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Its lead story today reported praise for the Kuwaiti Emir and his humanitarian work.

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