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The Tokyo District Court ordered Kyodo News on Thursday to pay 1.65 million yen in compensation to a 35-year-old Bangladeshi businessman and his Tokyo-based company for running reports in 2004 about their alleged links with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Judge Jun Abe ruled three of the five reports over which Islam Mohamed Himu filed the defamation suit lacked reporting necessary for substantiation and there were no grounds justifying Kyodo’s belief that the allegations were true. Himu, who lives in Saitama Prefecture, had demanded 11 million yen.

From May to June of 2004, Kyodo dispatched reports on the man’s alleged close relations with a senior al-Qaida member and involvement in dubious money transfers, based chiefly on reporting of investigative authorities, according to the court.

The news coverage began after police arrested the man in May 2004 for allegedly falsifying a notary registration of his firm. He was served with another warrant the following month on suspicion of illegally hiring two employees.

While he was held for 43 days, no charges were filed in the first case, and he was fined in the second case.

Kyodo Deputy Managing Editor Shuichi Ito said it is regrettable the court did not accept the news agency’s arguments that, after the man was released by police, it had been reporting that he was not linked to al-Qaida.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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