Targeting Journalists in Iraq

Monday, March 31, 2003
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) expressed dismay today at the alarming number of press-freedom violations against journalists covering the conflict in Iraq. "The war enters its third week with an unacceptable number of attacks on journalists just doing their jobs," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "All sides involved in the conflict would do well to remember that journalists are in the service of their readers, viewers and listeners around the world; they are entitled to fair and humane treatment as they struggle to cover the war." The CJFE statement comes after several distressing reports from the war zone, which has already claimed the lives of at least two journalists, Britain's Terry Lloyd and Australian Paul Moran. Among the incidents that have sparked concern: # U.S. troops expelled four journalists from Iraq this past weekend after alleging they were spies. But yesterday, the journalists -- Israel's Dan Scemama of Channel 1 TV and Boaz Bismuth of the daily Yediot Ahronot, along with Portugal's Luis Castro and Victor Silva, both of Radio Televisao Portuguesa -- said they were detained and mistreated for 72 hours by U.S. soldiers. # Two U.S.-based journalists missing in Baghdad are thought to be in the custody of Iraqi authorities. The Iraqi government said reporter Matthew McAllester and photographer Moises Saman, both of the New York daily Newsday, were deported last week for visa irregularities. But neither has been seen since March 24 and they have not been in touch with Newsday. Colleagues in Baghdad said there is reason to believe they are in the custody of the Iraqi government. # U.S. journalist Caroline Glick of the Chicago Sun Times and the Jerusalem Post was, while in Kuwait earlier this month, pressured by Kuwaiti officials into signing an undertaking not to file stories to her employer in Israel while in Kuwait. # NBC fired journalist Peter Arnett today after he provided an interview to state-run Iraqi TV. Arnett apologised for doing the interview but was still terminated by his employer, which initially defended his action. # Four journalists remain missing. Johan Rydeng Spanner, a freelance photographer with the Danish daily Jyllands Posten, and Molly Bingham, a U.S. freelance photographer, were last seen in Baghdad nearly a week ago being escorted by Iraqi officials from the Palestine Hotel. ITV News cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Othman were last seen in southern Iraq on March 22 when their car came under apparent Coalition fire in the attack that killed Terry Lloyd. "In all these cases, there is an alarming tendency to run roughshod over reporters," Ruimy said. "I urge all journalists to monitor the treatment of their colleagues and to speak out when there is abuse." CJFE is an association of more than 400 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others committed to preserving press freedom and freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 e-mail: cjfe@cjfe.org

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