The Baghdad offices of a satellite network broadcasting to Iraq from headquarters in Dubai have been officially shut down by the Iraqi government after a newscaster reporting on the execution of Saddam Hussein wore black mourning clothes and referred to him as "president." Official news reports had called him "the tyrant" or "the criminal." The network, Al Sharqiya, had already abandoned the offices two months earlier as its personnel came under attack, presumably from Shiite militiamen. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry accused Al Sharqiya of broadcasting false news and inciting sectarian violence. There was no interruption of the channel's programming, which has included protests of the execution by Iraqis who have fled the country. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Daily Variety, Saad Bazzaz, the owner of Al Sharqiya, said that it was "still on the air. Nothing has changed. ... We do not belong to that group of channels that represent a particular sect or political party. ... In Al Sharqiya, there are no Shias or Sunnis. There are only Iraqis." Bazzaz had been Saddam's broadcasting chief until he fled the country in 1992. Meanwhile, two guards and an unidentified official were arrested and questioned Wednesday in connection with the release of an unauthorized video of the execution that included a shouting exchange between Saddam and observers moments before he was hanged. National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie told the Associated Press that the guard force had been infiltrated by an Arab TV station.
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