Intimidation attempts target London conference participants
Qatari political activist in exile Khalid al-Hail. (AP)
2017/09/17 Issue: 123 Page: 2
A number of participants and media organisations said they were targeted by an intimidation campaign aimed at dissuading them from attending the Qatari opposition conference held in London on September 14.
Suspicion over the attempts centred on representatives and supporters of the Doha government.
A week before the event, UK members of parliament received a letter from what would later be revealed to be a fake public relations firm urging them to boycott the “Qatar, Global Security & Stability” conference. The same fake PR firm, calling itself the London Centre for Public Affairs (LCPA), also reached out to a number of news media outlets, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The BBC is scheduled to air a documentary on the bizarre attempts to hinder the event’s media coverage later in the year.
“In the 12 years I’ve been a member of parliament I’ve never come under the sort of level of pressure that my office and members of staff have been put under by certain groups trying to prevent us from attending,” MP Daniel Kawczynski said.
Kawczynski stressed that the nature of the UK’s parliamentary democracy requires it to scrutinise the government’s foreign policy and relations with the Gulf states.
“It’s actually had a negative effect because it made me more determined to come to the conference,” Kawczynski stressed, adding that British parliamentarians do not react kindly to threats and intimidation.
In its press release, the fake PR firm also called for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to revoke the membership of the UAE Journalists Association and its members, claiming that the association was financially underwriting the event.