Journalist imprisoned over leaked UAE-Iraq pre-game comments

The detained journalist faces charges that carry up to five years in prison and a fine from $1,360 up to $136,000. (File/Twitter)
The detained journalist faces charges that carry up to five years in prison and a fine from $1,360 up to $136,000. (File/Twitter)
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Updated 25 October 2021

Journalist imprisoned over leaked UAE-Iraq pre-game comments

The detained journalist faces charges that carry up to five years in prison and a fine from $1,360 up to $136,000. (File/Twitter)
  • UAE imprisons TV journalist over leaked comments made before the match against Iraq during a World Cup qualifier

DUBAI: Prosecutors in the United Arab Emirates on Friday announced they had imprisoned a television journalist over apparently leaked pre-match comments made before the Emirates’ tie with Iraq during a World Cup qualifier earlier this month.
Authorities did not identify the journalist they imprisoned from the state-run Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, nor the others fired from the broadcaster over the incident. However, they described the comments made as “harming the public interest and provoking hate speech.”
The comments came before the channel went on air between the match commentators and analysts back at a studio, according to a statement carried by the state-run WAM news agency.
The feed was “hacked and the published clips were seized and broadcast on accounts on some social media sites,” the WAM report said. It said an investigation continued into how the hack took place.
The detained journalist faces charges that carry up to five years in prison and a fine from $1,360 up to $136,000, according to the state-linked newspaper The National in Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi Sports Channel fired three people involved with the broadcast over the incident, WAM said. The two others were arrested and later released on bail, authorities said.
In the meeting of Dutch coaches, Bert van Marwijk’s United Arab Emirates lineup was held to a 2-2 draw by Dick Advocaat’s Iraq in Dubai on Oct. 12.
The UAE is a nation of autocratic rulers where speech is strictly monitored. Emiratis online have encouraged fellow citizens to report comments critical of the country to law enforcement in the past amid the country’s yearslong boycott of Qatar with other Arab nations. That boycott ended in January. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
Updated 24 sec ago

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
  • ‘Dare to take Risks,’ featuring Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar, will begin streaming on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17
  • It will follow them as they travel across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt participating in activities such as mountain climbing and diving

DUBAI: Warner Bros. Discovery has partnered with the Saudi Telecommunication Company’s TV service Intigral to launch a new reality show, “Dare to take Risks,” starring Arab influencers Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar.

The six-episode series will follow the three friends as they embark on a journey across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, participating along the way in activities such as mountain climbing and diving.

“This unique project is a landmark moment within our long-standing partnership with Intigral,” said Francesco Perta, vice-president of business development and distribution for MENA and Turkey at Warner Bros. Discovery.

“We are excited for viewers to be inspired by this new generation of Arab women, with their extraordinary creativity, zest and humor.”

The show was filmed in some of the region’s most historic and distinctive locations, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hegra in Saudi and Aswan in Egypt, as well as at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai.

Peter Mrkic, Intigral’s chief commercial officer, said the partnership “marks a new milestone for digital entertainment in the region as it engages a group of talents from the Kingdom and the region, and the best production and broadcast technologies.

“It will also enhance the Kingdom’s position as a production powerhouse and a hub for the latest digital entertainment productions.”

The first episode of “Dare to take Risks” will be available to stream on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17, with new episodes released each week.


More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
Updated 31 min 26 sec ago

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
  • New buttons will allow people to customize what they see, company says
  • Move is part of wider effort to improve AI systems

LONDON: Facebook has introduced a new set of features to give users more control over what appears on their feeds.

The changes mean that on all posts from individuals and communities that a user is linked to, including recommended posts, there will be buttons offering the options to “Show more” or “Show less.”

“Today, we’re announcing new ways to customize what you see in your Facebook Feed so you can discover what’s most relevant to you,” the company said in a blog post.

Depending on which button is pressed, the algorithm will temporarily increase or decrease related content, it said.

Facebook said the move was part of its ongoing efforts to improve its artificial intelligence systems.

“By offering more ways to incorporate direct feedback into feed ranking, we’re making our artificial intelligence systems smarter and more responsive”, it said.

According to Tom Alison, the head of Facebook’s core app, the algorithm will record the preference for 30 to 60 days, a time frame decided after a study of users’ preferences.

“We are looking at it as a signal you are giving us that is a little more time-bound than liking a post,” Alison said.

Currently, users of Facebook and Instagram — both of which are owned by Meta Platforms Inc. — can hide posts from people they follow or have been suggested, but the new feature will encompass Facebook posts from friends and recommendations.

The company said also it was trialing new ways to help users customize how much content they see in their feeds from the friends and family, groups and other pages to which they are connected.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the changes were part of the company’s efforts to compete with the surge in popularity of Chinese rival TikTok, whose recommendation-based algorithm has proven a hit for the video-sharing app.

“Features like these can help you discover more of the content that’s valuable to you, so you can see more of what you want and less of what you don’t,” the company said.

“As with every product change we make, we’ll use direct feedback to continually refine our approach.”


Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
Updated 06 October 2022

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
  • ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it "utterly and unambiguously" rejected the allegations
  • There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among six public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged unlawful information-gathering at its titles.
The others taking part in the legal action are actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, John’s husband David Furnish and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence, the domestic PA news agency said in a report.
The six had “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), a statement by law firm Hamlins acting for the group said.
ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it “utterly and unambiguously” rejected the allegations.
Lawrence, whose son was killed in a racially-motivated attack in south London in 1993, had also lodged a claim against Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers, publisher of various titles including The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.
The details of that claim are not known, but it is understood also to relate to misuse of private information.
The statement about the legal action against ANL released by Hamlins claimed that the unlawful acts alleged to have taken place included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.
It also alleged that payments were made to police “with corrupt links to private investigators” for sensitive information, that medical information was “obtained by deception” and that bank accounts and financial information was accessed “through illicit means and manipulation.”
Hamlins is representing Harry and Frost, while the other claimants are represented by law firm Gunnercooke.
There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain’s phone-hacking scandal.
That resulted in the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World.
While most of those claims have now been settled, this is the first claim to be brought against ANL.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) settled claims relating to the News Of The World, while never admitting any liability over claims made in relation to The Sun.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has settled claims relating to its titles, including The People and The Sunday Mirror.
Both publishers are currently facing further claims, and have recently made attempts to bring the long-running litigation to an end.
A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said it “utterly and unambiguously” refuted “these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old.
“These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence, appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.”


Iranian artist’s struggle for freedom explored in ‘Hair Uncovered’

Iranian artist’s struggle for freedom explored in ‘Hair Uncovered’
Updated 06 October 2022

Iranian artist’s struggle for freedom explored in ‘Hair Uncovered’

Iranian artist’s struggle for freedom explored in ‘Hair Uncovered’
  • Short film focuses on woman forced to seek asylum due to her artwork

LONDON: An Iranian artist’s struggles for control of her own body have been captured on film, as thousands take to the streets against the regime in a country she can no longer visit.

Mim, who was forced to seek asylum in the UK due to her artwork and who is also deaf, is the focus of “Hair Uncovered”, a short that explores a “love-hate relationship” with her hair and her fight for freedom of expression.

The film comes amid widespread protests in Iran over the death in Tehran of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after she was beaten by Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly breaking a law ordering women to wear headscarves. 

Mim, who first arrived in the UK to study, uses her own hair to create brooches that serve as a symbol of her personal freedom away from Iran. However, the content of her work has enraged the regime.

“Becoming an asylum seeker wasn’t my choice,” she says in the film’s trailer. “I lost a lot of things. But the benefit of that loss is freedom.”

The artist said that the film focuses on “just a tiny part of being a woman in Iran. But so many stories of Iran’s women have not been heard. Be our voice so they can be heard.”  

Abigale Borsberry, the producer, said that she knew how important Mim’s story was from the moment they met. 

“Her ability to share her experiences in her own words and weave her art throughout is utterly spellbinding. Now more than ever, Mim’s story and journey need to be shared with the world,” she said.

“Hair Uncovered”, which was directed by Cathey Heffernan, is to be screened at the Aesthetica Film Festival, which will take place in York between Nov. 1 and Nov 6. 

The film is scheduled to be released in December.


Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs
Updated 06 October 2022

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs

Google’s Russian subsidiary files lawsuit against state bailiffs
  • Company's subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in June following the seizure of its bank account by authorities

MOSCOW: Google’s Russian subsidiary has filed a lawsuit against Russian state bailiffs, court documents show, in a year that has seen the unit file for bankruptcy in Russia and have more than 7.7 billion roubles ($127 million) in funds seized.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google declined to comment.
In May, Russian bailiffs seized funds from Google that it had been ordered to pay late last year. A month earlier, Tsargrad, a Russian Orthodox television channel blocked by YouTube, said bailiffs had seized 1 billion roubles from Google.
Google’s subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in June after saying that authorities had seized its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors.
Court documents published on Oct. 4 showed the Moscow Arbitration Court had accepted an application from Google LLC dated Sept. 30 and would consider the case.
The court listed the Moscow department of Russia’s Federal Bailiffs Service and one of its senior officials as the defendants.
Russia’s Federal Bailiffs Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The RIA news agency reported in August that the same Moscow court had rejected Google’s demand that the 1 billion roubles seized in the Tsargrad case be returned, with the TV channel still unable to access all Google services.
Tsargrad TV is owned by businessman Konstantin Malofeev, who was sanctioned by the United States and European Union in 2014 over accusations that he funded pro-Moscow separatists fighting in Ukraine, something he denies. Russia considers such Western sanctions illegal.
Tsargrad TV had no immediate comment.