An update on Liliane Khalil

Mystery continues to surround Liliane Khalil, the "veteran investigative journalist" who last month became "North America bureau chief" for the Bahrain Independent and formerly held the title of contributing editor for the Bikya Masr website.

Earlier this week, questions were raised as to whether she is really the person she claims to be, but hopefully Ms Khalil will cast some light on that next week since she has promised via Twitter to give interviews "to some newspapers and other news orgs". 

In other posts on Twitter, she says: "I've never been paid by gov't of Bahrain, never worked for MOI [Ministry of Information] of Bahrain, never advised any Bahraini ministry.." and: "Also never gone by name Gisele Cohen, Mizrahi, Arazi or variation thereof. All of those accusations are false."

In response to an apparent shortage of people coming forward to say that they have met Liliane Khalil face-to-face, she also tweeted: "For someone who knows me personally and has met me in person - follow Mr @ahmedbahgat1962 - a friend and former client in Cairo."

In the meantime, she is re-directing further questions to her publicist: "Due to so many media enquiries for interviews, futures requests should go through my publicist Reem Zain via @Reem_Tweets". Reem Zain appears to run Bahrain Views, a pro-regime website, and in June he was said to be "covering Bahrain security for Bahrain Independent".

Marc Owen Jones, the Durham University PhD student who originally published a dossier about Liliane Khalil on his blog, later tweeted that he had spoken to her for over an hour on the phone and described the conversation as "very interesting". 

He added: "I don't really know where to begin. I think have even more questions now. Writing up notes." Rather tantalisingly, he also said: "The Liliane Khalil I spoke to didn't have the same voice as the person who recorded the Radio Hurriya clip." The clip he was referring to was a promotional message recorded by someone (with appalling Arabic pronunciation) who claimed to be Liliane Khalil.

I haven't the foggiest idea where this is going to lead, but it's fascinating. And baffling.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 6 August 2011.

UPDATE, 17.30 BST, 6 August: Marc Owen Jones has just posted a lengthy account (here or here)  of his phone conversation with the woman claiming to be Liliane Khalil. It's difficult to know what to make of it, or how much to believe of what she says.

She doesn't seem to have provided any information that would allow her background to be independently checked (regarding her university studies, for example), despite being given an opportunity to do so.

In a way I feel sorry for her, because it may be – as she indicated in the interview – that she really does have some serious personal problems. Possibly I'm being too charitable there ... but who knows? What does strike me, though, is that some people connected with the Bahrain regime appear to have used her pretty unscrupulously.