According to the documents, Khanfar held particularly close ties with the U.S. government, to whom he promised the network would provide less critical coverage. He steps down today after running the network for eight years.
The documents allege that Khanfar censored some of Al Jazeera's coverage of the conflict in Iraq under American pressure to sanitize its coverage, presumably to minimize anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab world. The coverage in question was to include images of injured civilians, which were allegedly removed by Khanfar.
started its own Wikileaks-style platform for data leakers and other whistleblowers called the Al Jazeera Transparency Unit and released The Palestine Papers, a set of leaked documents pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.The incident illustrates that not even Wikileaks' former media partners are safe from the wrath of the organization's radical, pro-transparency agenda. Al Jazeera was one of several media partners Wikileaks turned to in order to release the Iraq War Logs in late 2010. This year, Al Jazeera
Historically, Al Jazeera has not been known for its reverence for the U.S. government. Indeed, its early coverage of the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq often revealed citvilian casualties and resulted in harsh criticism from the Bush Administration and, some believe, a U.S. missile strike against the organization's Baghdad bureau in 2003.
Al Jazeera is still not available on television in most markets in the United States, but its website became one of the go-to sources for news about the recent upheaval in the Middle East, especially the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February of this year. The network's coverage won it praise from U.S. Secretary of State of State Hillary Clinton, who criticized American coverage of the revolution. It was quite a change in tone from a few years earlier.
Wikileaks has shaken up corporations, governments and diplomatic relations all over the world by using the Internet to acquire and leak troves of classified data, including hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, whose release has represented the biggest leak of classified information in world history. You can read a timeline of ReadWriteWeb's extensive coverage of the organization here and here.
Photo of Wadah Khanfar by Steve Jurvetson