High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says Saudi-led campaign to close the network is 'extraordinary, unprecedented'.
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein "is extremely concerned by the demand that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets", Hussein's spokesman Rupert Colville said on Friday.
"Whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera's Arabic and English channels are legitimate, and have many millions of viewers," Colville added.
Colville said that "if states have an issue with items broadcast on other countries' television channels, they are at liberty to publicly debate and dispute them", adding that "to insist that such channels be shut down is extraordinary, unprecedented and clearly unreasonable."
He also said that if a closure were to happen, "it would open a Pandora's Box of powerful individual states or groups of states seriously undermining the right to freedom of expression and opinion in other states, as well as in their own".
Al Jazeera has described the Saudi-led campaign as "nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people's right to information and the right to be heard".
Giles Trendle, the acting managing director of Al Jazeera's English-language service, also denounced the demands by the Arab states as an attempt to suppress free expression.
"We are stunned by the demand to close Al Jazeera," Trendle said. "Of course, there has been talk about it in the past, but it is still a great shock and surprise to actually see it in writing. It's as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain to close the BBC."
He added that Al Jazeera is going to continue its "editorial mission of covering the world news in a fair and balanced way".
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