March 16, 2011 / 5:30 AM / in 8 years

Saudi Arabia withdraws Reuters reporter's permit

LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has withdrawn the accreditation of a senior Reuters correspondent, obliging him to leave the country, after officials complained on Tuesday that a recent report on a protest in the kingdom was not accurate.

Reuters said it stood by its coverage and welcomed an assurance given by the Saudi government that it would begin the accreditation of a replacement for its correspondent.

Saudi Information Minister Abdul-Aziz Khoja said: “We have been accustomed to exceptional precision from Reuters but its correspondent here in one of his reports lately did not relay the actual, precise picture we have been used to from Reuters.

“In any case, his limited work permit in the kingdom has expired,” he said. “We welcome any correspondent the company appoints and we will help and facilitate the mission of Reuters in having a new correspondent appointed in the kingdom.”

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler praised the coverage of Senior Correspondent Ulf Laessing, who has been based in the Saudi capital Riyadh since 2009. Laessing joined Reuters in his native Germany in 1997 and has also worked in Egypt and Kuwait.

“Reuters is committed to accurate and unbiased reporting from Saudi Arabia,” Adler said. “We are disappointed that Ulf Laessing must leave Riyadh but welcome the minister’s assurance that Saudi Arabia will now accredit a new correspondent.”

Laessing was expected to leave the country later this week.

Reuters, part of New York-based Thomson Reuters, the leading information provider, employs some 3,000 journalists worldwide.

Reporting in English, Arabic and more than a dozen other languages, Reuters has had bureaux across the Middle East for well over a century. In 2003, it became the first major international news organization to have a foreign correspondent accredited to work in the kingdom by the Saudi authorities.

Reporting by Samia Nakhoul; editing by Alastair Macdonald

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