September 17, 2017

Intimidation attempts target London conference participants

Qatari political activist in exile Khalid al-Hail. (AP)

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.