Court Translation and Interpreting in Times of “the War on Terror”: The case of Taysir Alony


  • Mustapha Taibi University of Western Sydney
  • Anne Martin Universidad de Granada


Court translation, ideology, manipulation, culture, role.


The case of Taysir Alony, the Al-Jazeera reporter who was imprisoned because of alleged collaboration with a terrorist organisation, raises several questions about the situation of police and court translation and interpreting in Spain. Alony and his co-defendants’ indictments were based, at least partially, on tapped conversations which were translated literally by verbatim translators or translators who did not belong to the same speech community as the speakers. Moreover, parts of the translated conversations and documents were framed in a manner that created a climate conducive to conviction. Given the context of “the War on Terror” in which the translations and the “evidence” were interpreted, this case raises questions such as interpretation vs. interpreting, the translation of culture and the role of the translator/interpreter.

This paper scrutinises these questions taking into consideration the historical, political and ideological context of the case. Using some instances of verbatim, manipulated or reframed translation, it is argued that the dominant discourse on “the War on Terror” manages to construct a narrative that serves its interests — either through indoctrinated translators or blatant manipulation.