Arab News appoints Baker Atyani to run Asia operations, Ben Flanagan to run London bureau

Baker Atyani (left), Faisal J. Abbas (middle), and Ben Flanagan.
Updated 02 August 2017
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Arab News appoints Baker Atyani to run Asia operations, Ben Flanagan to run London bureau

JEDDAH: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, has launched bureaus in Europe and Asia as part of its ongoing global, digital expansion.
The multimedia news-gathering hubs, run by two veteran journalists with decades of experience in the field, will contribute to the print edition and website www.arabnews.com.
Award-winning journalist Baker Atyani — an expert on terrorism and militant groups in Asia, having covered conflict zones on the continent for the past two decades — will lead the Southeast Asia bureau.
Throughout his career, Atyani has had several exclusives, including an interview with Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 terror attacks.
On assignment in 2012, Atyani was kidnapped by one of the sub factions of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Sulu Islands in southern Philippines. He was held for 18 months before being freed in December 2013.
Atyani was honored by the UN in December 2013 for his contributions to journalism, while the May Chidiac Foundation (MCF) gave him the “Exceptional Courage in Journalism” award in September 2014. Atyani will spearhead Arab News’ coverage of Asia, across print, online and video with a particular focus on India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In addition, Arab News senior editor Ben Flanagan has been promoted to become the paper’s first London bureau chief. Upon being fully staffed, the London operation will cover the UK and Europe from an Arab perspective, with a particular focus on politics, business and investment. It will also serve as a digital hub for the newspaper.
Flanagan has 16 years’ experience working on national newspapers and news portals in Europe and the Middle East, and has reported from numerous countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Singapore, India and the US.
He started his career in London at The Observer, part of the Guardian Media Group, and the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper.
Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, said that the new bureaus support the newspaper’s “more digital, more global” strategy.
“It is a great pleasure for us to have these two exceptionally experienced, incredibly capable journalists heading up our crucial Asia and UK operations, this inevitably adds much value to our readers who will be sure to get the best relevant content and stories from these regions,” said Abbas.
Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.


Australia threatens social media execs with jail over terror images

Updated 26 March 2019
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Australia threatens social media execs with jail over terror images

  • Morrison met with a number of tech firms Tuesday, including Facebook, Twitter and Google
  • PM asked how they planned to keep their platforms from being "weaponised" by terrorists

SYDNEY: Australia warned social media giants Tuesday that executives could be jailed if they fail to quickly remove extremist material from their platforms.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with a number of tech firms Tuesday -- including Facebook, Twitter and Google -- to ask how they planned to keep their platforms from being "weaponised" by terrorists, as Canberra considers new laws in the wake of the New Zealand massacre.
Social media platforms "can get an ad to you in half a second," Morrison told reporters ahead of the meeting.
"They should be able to pull down this sort of terrorist material and other types of very dangerous material in the same sort of time frame and apply their great capacities to the real challenges to keep Australians safe," he added.
Facebook said it "quickly" removed a staggering 1.5 million videos of the harrowing viral Christchurch mosque attacks, which accused white supremacist gunman Brenton Tarrant livestreamed on the social media platform.
A 17-minute video of the March 15 rampage that claimed the lives of 50 people was widely available online and experts said was easily retrievable several hours after the attack.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the response from firms during Tuesday's meeting was "thoroughly underwhelming".
"The more important discussion we wanted to have today was how do you respond quicker, or indeed prevent the livestreaming of this type of material in the first instance? And the answers to those questions were not overly satisfactory," he said.
Porter said the government was "absolutely considering" the possibility of jail time for executives as it mulled new laws.
He warned Australian laws had "extra-territorial reach" regardless of where a company is based.
Cyber-security expert Nigel Phair, from the University of New South Wales, cast doubt over the ability of proposed Australian laws to impose jail time.
"The penalty is only for Australian domiciled executives, and on the whole they're marketing executives, not those responsible for running and maintaining the platform," he told broadcaster SBS.
Facebook said after the meeting it remained "shocked and saddened" by the Christchurch attacks.
"We are committed to working with leaders and communities in New Zealand, Australia and other countries, alongside other technology and media companies to help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism," Facebook said in a statement.
The government has set up a task force, which includes representation from tech firms, to review possible responses to posting and spread of terrorist material online.