Asylum seeker suing broadcaster over doctored interview

PowNed microphone (Photo: Maurits90/Wikimedia Commons). (PowNed microphone (Photo: Maurits90/Wikimedia Commons))

A Syrian asylum seeker is suing broadcaster PowNed over an interview that made it sound like he came to the Netherlands looking for sex. According to the refugee, the interview was made under false pretenses, the recordings were doctored and his statements were taken out of context.

Late in September a PowNed reporter questioned a number of refugees in an emergency shelter in Apeldoorn, pretending to be a student and saying that the recordings would only be used for study purposes, broadcaster NOS reports.

During the interviews she asked some questions about sexuality. Complainant Ahmed stated that he and other refugees have not had sex in a long time after four years of war and a month on the run. He told a story how he went to a hospital in Greece because his testicles were swollen and the doctor told him to have sex or masturbate, but he ignored this advice because of his religious belief. The broadcast only showed the bit in which Ahmed says that a doctor advised him to have sex or masturbate.

Ahmed's lawyer, Channah Samkalden told Radio 1 that this clip has since spread all over the world, including to Syria. This resulted in Ahmed's family and friends no longer wanting contact with him and problems in his marriage. The asylum seeker wants PowNed to correct the broadcast, and a sum of money to translate the correction into English and Arabic so that he can show his family.

Dominique Weesie of Powned confirmed that the reporter did indeed not identify herself as a reporter. "The decision was made deliberately and we still stand behind it. There is no question of taking statements out of context. We face any procedure whatsoever with confidence", Weesie said to NOS.