Political commentator Mehdi Eliefifi broke off from discussing Russia-Ukraine crisis to demand payment
BBC Arabic has been publicly shamed by a guest speaker who interrupted a live broadcast about the Russia-Ukraine crisis to demand payment after claiming he had not been paid in two years.
Political commentator Mehdi Eliefifi was invited to speak about US President Joe Biden’s comments on the situation unfolding between Russia and Ukraine on 20 January, but used the opportunity to instead highlight an issue “of much higher importance”.
In his on-air protest, Mr Eliefifi said: “The BBC has failed to pay dues for two years. Where are those responsible for this payment of dues?”
The political analyst held up a sign to his camera which asked, “Where is my money?” and named two of BBC Arabic’s editors, Edward Jalad and Tamer Abdelwahab.
The BBC Arabic broadcaster interrupted him asking: “Do you think this is really of any importance to the viewers?”
But the video of Mr Eliefifi’s protest went viral in the Middle East and North Africa, and several other journalists claimed similar experiences with BBC Arabic, who are part of the UK licence fee-funded World Service.
Mr Eliefifi told openDemocracy he was owed about $10,000 (£7,560) for appearances dating back to 2019, while Ahmed Fathi, a US-based correspondent, estimated that BBC Arabic owed him several thousands of dollars stretching back two or three years.
BBC Arabic issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “To clarify the issue of the symbolic payments owed to some of the BBC’s guests, we conducted further investigations and we are aware of a technical defect in the payment mechanism within the institution, which led to the delay in the dues of some guests.
“Therefore, we apologize for the delay to all those affected by this matter and assure that we are working hard to solve this case as soon as possible.”
The BBC has subsequently confirmed that Mr Eliefifi was paid in February.
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