Media war launched after article on President is "stolen"



 
In a unique event in Algerian media history, two newspapers entered an ongoing feud, after Ennahar el-Djadid published an exclusive article on the country's President, which al-Fadjr newspaper claims was "stolen."
 
By MAHDI IDDER
 
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Al-Fadjr says article, "For the first time: secrets of Bouteflika the man," published by Ennahar was taken from an interview they did with the President, and never recieved.

ALGIERS, April 17, 2009 (MENASSAT) -  On April 6, three days before the elections, which crowned Abdelaziz Bouteflika as president for the third consecutive five year term,  Ennahar el-Djadid published an article entitled “For the first time: secrets of Bouteflika the man,” sparking the first of its kind media war in Algeria.  

But Journalist Said Bou Aqba of al-Fadjr newspaper said the interview was "stolen" and that he had sent questions to President Bouteflika only to find the answers in Ennahar el-Djadid newspaper shortly after.

The article spoke of the private life of Bouteflika since his birth on March 2nd, 1937, to his life in the Presidential Palace, including details about his childhood in the Moroccan city of Wajda where he was born, his customs and relations with his mother and his family, and other personal antidotes.

On April 12th, al-Fadjr surprised Algeria when the newspaper stated that Ennahar stole and published the answers to Bou Aqba's questions, even though the President had replied to al-Fadjr.

Who leaked the answers?

In an interview with Djazair News, Bou Aqba accused the manager of Ennahar, Anis Rahmani, of plotting with people related to the President, to get the information the paper later published.

The journalist also said that the Ennahar article, which allegedly quotes peoeple close to the President, is nothing but a summary of the answers to the 58 questions Bou Aqba sent to the President.

The questions were sent through Ezzedine Mihoubi, Telecommunications Minister, who insisted that the questions were presented by hand to the President.

According to Bou Aqba, on April 2, Hida Azzam, manager of al-Fadjr newspaper, met with the Information Manager in the Algerian Presidency, Farida Basaa,  in the Hilton Hotel in Algiers, who assured Azzam that she had received the President's answers from his consultant Mohamad al-Zarhouni, and was waiting for the right time to send the answers back to the journalist to publish them in al-Fadjr.

Four days later, Ennahar al-Djadid published the interview on its front page under the title “Secrets of Bouteflika the man.”

However, Rahmani denied these statements and accusations in Djazair News.

Chronology of the events, according to al-Fadjr


On March 7, 2009, al-Fadjr sent a letter to Bouteflika, requesting a cultural interview with him.

The newspaper followed the regular procedures: the letter was sent to the secretary of the Telecommunications Ministry and a week later the minister answered before the electoral campaign was launched, and asked for the questions.

On March 24th, Bou Aqba sent three pages of 58 questions to Mihoubi, to covering every aspect of the President’s life, ensuring that they were personal so only Bouteflika could answer them.

The next day, the journalist called Mihoubi who told him “the letter reached the concerned person.”

When Bou Aqba asked him about his opinion, Mihoubi said, “as long as they have your signature on, I don’t interfere with them.”

After el-Djadid published the article, al-Fadjr contacted Basaa, who said that a meeting was held concerning the article published by Ennahar and that it has nothing to do with the truth.

Two days later, Bou Aqba personally called Mihoubi to inform him of this matter, and discovered that the minister has no clue of what was happening, but promised to investigate the matter.

The next day, the journalist met the minister in a reception held to honor local and international press that covered the presidential elections, and asked him about the matter. The Minister answered that what happened was "weird."