Posts Tagged ‘Dale Gavlak’

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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.

Saudi-BandarPrince Bandar bin Sultan Saud

“…MintPress editor Mnar Muhawesh in turn released a lengthy statement that defines their position in no uncertain terms: (emphasis added)

Thank you for reaching out to me in regards to statements made by Dale Gavlak alleging MintPress for incorrectly attributing our exclusive report titled: “Syrians in Goutha claim Saudi-supplied rebels behind chemical attacks.” Gavlak pitched this story to MintPress on August 28th and informed her editors and myself that her colleague Yahya Ababneh was on the ground in Syria.She said Ababneh conducted interviews with rebels, their family members, Ghouta residents and doctors that informed him through various interviews that the Saudis had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons and that rebel fighters handled the weapons improperly setting off the explosions.

When Yahya had returned and shared the information with her, she stated that she confirmed with several colleagues and Jordanian government officials that the Saudis have been supplying rebels with chemical weapons, but as her email states, she says they refused to go on the record.

Gavlak wrote the article in it’s entirety as well as conducted the research.She filed her article on August 29th and was published on the same day.

Dale is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career. On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya was the reporter on the ground, but did let Gavlak know that we would not remove her name as this would violate the ethics of journalism.

We are aware of the tremendous pressure that Dale and some of our other journalists are facing as a result of this story, and we are under the same pressure as a result to discredit the story. We are unwilling to succumb to those pressures for MintPress holds itself to the highest journalistic ethics and reporting standards. Yahya has recently notified me that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his careerif he did a follow up story on who carried out the most recent chemical weapons attack and demanded that he stop doing media interviews in regards to the subject.

We hold Dale Gavlak in the highest esteem and sympathize with her for the pressure she is receiving, but removing her name from the story would not be honest journalism and therefore, as stated before, we are not willing to remove her name from the article. We are prepared and may release all emails and communications made between MintPress and Dale Gavlak, and even Yahya to provide further evidence of what was provided to you in this statement.”

“One can readily assume that these people are her employers at the Associated Press. Who have apparently now suspended Gavlak “indefinitely”

Controversy surrounding MintPress Chemical Weapons Ghouta Report

Original MintPress article:

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack