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Senior BBC executive James Angus to join Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya: Report

Former senior controller of output and commissioning, who resigned in May, said to be set for top job at channel
Angus was in charge of the BBC World Service for three years and also had stints at the BBC with the Today Programme and Newsnight (Twitter)

A former senior controller of output and commissioning at the BBC is to take up a top role at Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya News, according to a UK newspaper. He resigned from the corporation in April.

Sources told the Times that they were uncertain about James Angus’s exact role, but it is thought he could become the station’s chief financial officer or chief operating officer.

The newspaper said Angus told his former BBC colleagues that Al Arabiya was aiming to establish itself as one of the most innovative news operations in the world.

The broadcaster is part of the Saudi media conglomerate MBC Group.

Al Arabiya is considered a rival to Qatar's Al Jazeera and began operating in Dubai in 2003 but started moving staff to Riyadh last September as Saudi Arabia looked to further tighten its grip on its media operations.

In 2018, Al Arabiya was fined £120,000 ($146,000) by Ofcom, the UK's broadcast regulator, after it found that the channel had infringed on the privacy of imprisoned opposition leader and torture survivor Hassan Mushaima when it broadcast footage of him obtained during his arbitrary detention in Bahrain.

Media censorship

According to Reporters Without Borders, virtually all Saudi media operates under direct official control and that self-censorship is ever-present in the kingdom, including on social networks.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised Saudi Arabia's treatment of activists and dissidents, citing countless examples of torture against female and male prisoners of conscience.

Al Arabiya faces UK ban for interview with tortured Bahraini
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According to US intelligence, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote opinion columns for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post that were critical of the prince’s policies, was killed and dismembered in 2018 by operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Angus was in charge of the BBC World Service for three years, and also had stints at the BBC with Radio 4's Today Programme and BBC Two's Newsnight.

Angus and Al Arabiya did not respond to the Times for requests to comment.