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LONDON: Many of Al Jazeera’s employees have claimed they have been sexually assaulted or bullied at work, according to a study released Monday by the BBC.

The investigation highlighted what staff claimed to be a toxic work culture within the Qatar-based broadcaster, with former and current workers facing years of harassment. says.

Former Al Jazeera host and journalist Kamal Santamaria was accused of inappropriate conduct by several staff members, according to the report.

After 16 years with Al Jazeera, Santamaria joined New Zealand television network TVNZ as a top-tier broadcaster and left after just 32 days.

Some of those questioned pointed to a discrepancy between Santamaria’s resignation from Al Jazeera and his quick departure from TVNZ, said to have been spurred by an onslaught of complaints.

In a public statement released on his website last week, the presenter acknowledged some of the allegations, some of which were “true, some lacking significant context, outright lies, and historically unheard of.” We are rewriting,” he added.

However, in response to recent allegations, Santamaria acknowledged and apologized for “behavior that anyone might have found offensive”, saying that what he previously thought was “frivolous, overly friendly and It was a bit of a joke, or simply,” he added. To the extent acceptable in general newsroom culture, it really wasn’t. “

According to staff, the presenter made sexual remarks and sent flirtatious texts to colleagues on Twitter, WhatsApp and Al Jazeera’s internal emails.

He was also accused of multiple instances of inappropriate touching and unwanted kissing in front of witnesses.

As one employee said: Hands on shoulders, weird hugs, and worst of all: kisses on the cheek. More than once I had to go to the bathroom to wipe Kamal’s saliva off my face. “

The BBC’s investigation also revealed a number of allegations against other staff, including middle management, but they were largely unaddressed. A total of 22 claims were found to have been made.

Al Jazeera said, “We consider our staff around the world to be the backbone and foundation of our company, and their safety and well-being are of utmost importance.

“As an international organization with over 95 nationalities, we continuously strive to create a healthy and constructive work environment for all.”

The BBC said Al Jazeera had been informed of the complaint privately but no action had been taken, adding that it had also received reports of harassment in Al Jazeera’s London newsroom.

Some workers claimed that incidents often went unpunished because of the culture of fear within the company.

A staff member who has worked as a freelancer for Al Jazeera for several years said he reported on Santa Maria several years ago and was shocked to learn that no action had been taken. “I reported him six years ago and nothing has been done. How many people has he done this to since then?”

The woman did not formally file a complaint, but claimed that when she told middle management what had happened, they responded, “Oh, he hasn’t done that yet, has he?”

Those interviewed claimed that some staff had left the media organization because of a “toxic work culture.”

“People are upset about everything and they feel like they can’t speak up in Al Jazeera or Qatar,” said David, a former employee who said he resigned because of bullying and harassment. .