The BBC’s flagship interview programme ‘Hardtalk’ is broadcast on both BBC World News and the BBC News channel. On August 27th, both those channels showed a repeat of a previous edition of the programme originally aired in January 2015 (and previously discussed here) in which Zeinab Badawi travelled to Malta to interview Suha Arafat.
As readers may recall, Badawi made no effort at the time to correct the inaccurate impressions given to audiences by Suha Arafat via statements such as:
“When there’s a rocket on Israel we have 1,000 people who are killed in the same day.”
“Gaza…the most crowded city in the world…”
“…more than 1,000 people who are still in the coma…” [after the conflict last summer]
“….nothing happen [with the peace process] because Israel continue to do settlements, Israel continue to build the wall….”
The synopsis of the repeat states:
“Earlier this year Zeinab Badawi went to Malta to meet Suha Arafat – the widow of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Ten years after his death, Mrs Arafat gave a rare broadcast interview about their marriage, why she believes her husband was assassinated and why she has chosen to live in Malta and not amongst the Palestinian people who so revered him.” [emphasis added]
Two months after the original interview took place, French experts ruled out the possibility of foul play in Arafat’s death.
“French experts have ruled out that the 2004 death of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the result of poisoning, a prosecutor told AFP Monday
The prosecutor of the western Paris suburb of Nanterre said the experts found there was no foul play in Arafat’s death, which sparked immediate and enduring conspiracy rumors. […]
The French experts “maintain that the polonium 210 and lead 210 found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples are of an environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis said.”
Last month – as the BBC itself reported – the French authorities closed the case.
“A French prosecutor has said there is no case to answer regarding the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
A murder inquiry was ordered by a court in Nanterre in August 2012 after his widow Suha alleged he was poisoned with polonium-210, a radioactive element.
On Tuesday, the local prosecutor concluded the case should be dismissed.”
It would therefore be extremely interesting to gain some insight into the editorial considerations which led to this programme being repeated and BBC audiences being yet again exposed to amplification of a conspiracy theory which has already been shown to be a figment of Ms Arafat’s imagination.