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Queen Elizabeth leak: Why the BBC apologized for airing her views

Queen Elizabeth leak: Her Majesty told a BBC journalist that the British government should have arrested radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri. This rare leak by the BBC of Queen Elizabeth's views was considered violation of journalistic ethics.

The BBC apologized Tuesday Sept. 26, 2012 for revealing details of a conversation with Queen Elizabeth II in which the monarch allegedly voiced concerns about the U.K.'s inability to arrest a radical cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri . On Tuesday, BBC journalist Frank Gardner recounted that in a private conversation years ago, the queen said she had mentioned she was upset that al-Masri had not been arrested.

(AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

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Britain's BBC apologized to Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday after a senior journalist reported her private views about one of the country's best-known terrorism suspects, an embarrassing disclosure for a monarch who avoids public political statements.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner broadcast details of a private conversation with the queen during which she supposedly told him she had complained to the last government about radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.

The queen was said to be upset that Britain had not arrested him after he preached fiery anti-Western sermons outside a mosque in London after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

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That was awkward for a head of state who has no political or executive role and is expected to stay neutral in public. The queen has never given a media interview and typically avoids controversial topics in her speeches.

The Egyptian-born cleric lost an appeal in the European courts on Monday and faces extradition from Britain to the United States. Washington accuses him of supporting al Qaeda, aiding a kidnapping in Yemen and plotting to open a U.S. training camp for militants.

Delays in arresting the cleric angered many in Britain. Newspapers campaigned for his extradition, with the Sun using the headline "Sling Your Hook", a reference to the metal hook he wore in place of a hand he lost in disputed circumstances.


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