The UN says the demand by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations for Qatar to close down its al-Jazeera TV channel is an “unacceptable attack” on the right to freedoms of expression and opinion.

UN High Commissioner Zeid Al-Hussein is “extremely concerned by the demand that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets”, his spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

“Whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English channels are legitimate, and have many millions of viewers.

“The demand that they be summarily closed down is, in our view, an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion,” Colville said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar on June 5, accusing it of backing militants.

The four Arab states then issued an ultimatum with a list of 13 demands, including some likely to infuriate Doha and exacerbate the region’s worst crisis in decades.

The demands included that they shut down a Turkish military base in Doha, shutting Al Jazeera and curbing ties with Iran.

Others are cut ties to extremist organisations, stop interfering in the four countries’ affairs, stop the practice of giving Qatari nationality to citizens of the four countries.