The UN human rights chief has called the demand by a Saudi-led bloc to close Al Jazeera an “unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion”.

UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein “is extremely concerned by the demand that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets”, Hussein’s spokesman Rupert Colville said on Friday.

“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,” Colville added.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on the country on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”, an allegation Doha has rejected as “baseless”.

Last week, the Saudi-led bloc gave Qatar 10 days to comply with 13 demands to end a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, insisting, among other things, that Doha shut down Al Jazeera, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.