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Phil Greaves keeps us updated on the MintPress fiasco, and the attacks on Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh.

The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack and the Role of Saudi Intelligence. The Mint News Report

MintPress editor speaks out:

Dear readers,

I wanted to personally express my appreciation for your continued support and readership following our newsroom’s August 29, 2013 exclusive report titled: “Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.”

I’ve been silent until today out of concern for the safety of the journalists, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, while we worked to bring clarity to their findings and ensuing events.  I’m relieved to now be able to share happenings of the past 60 days as Human Rights Watch addresses ongoing threats to co-author Yahya by Jordanian and Saudi actors in Amman, Jordan.

To be clear, my MintPress colleagues and I continue to stand by Dale and Yahya and their reporting. The tragic incident in Ghouta on August 21—and the Syria conflict as a whole—is complex and, as the article stated, some information could not be independently verified.  While efforts to discredit the story and our organization have disappointed us, we have been most concerned by the tremendous pressure placed on Dale by the Associated Press and more serious threats faced by Yahya.

Since the article was published, I’ve been in almost daily contact with co-author Yahya in Amman, Jordan.  He has related ongoing threats of imprisonment by the Jordanian police for his travel to Syria if he were to continue to report on this story or grant further press interviews.  Yahya has also described increasing pressure from Saudi actors to retract his story and the specific allegation by Ghouta residents of a rebel link to Prince Bandar.

In line with Dale’s description of Yahya as “a reputable journalist” to the New York Times, she distanced herself from the article only after stating in emails to MintPress that the Associated Press demanded her name be removed from the byline nearly two days after the article published.  She has not informed MintPress of the AP’s reason for this request—nor why they and National Public Radio (NPR), subsequently, suspended her.

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