The International Federation of Journalists today called on the United States army in Iraq to explain why the home of an award-winning Iraqi journalist investigating a high-level corruption scandal was raided by troops at the weekend.
American troops in Baghdad forced their way into the home of Ali Fadil, who is working with the Guardian and Channel 4, and fired shots into the room where he was sleeping with his wife and children. He was taken away and released a few hours later, but video tapes he had produced were confiscated and not returned.
“This incident smacks of intimidation of a journalist who is on the track of a story that some people would prefer does not get told,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “There has been no credible explanation for this raid. Once again it appears that journalists are suffering pressure with impunity.”
At the end of last year Fadil was awarded the UK Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award. In Iraq he has been working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims of misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British authorities in the country.
Troops told him that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. The IFJ says concerns have been raised because this raid came just after the media team approached the US authorities, informed them about Fadil’s investigation and asked them then to grant him an interview.
“The implications of this incident are very serious for the exercise of journalism in Iraq,” said White. “It is simply not acceptable to burst into a journalists’ house, shoot off a few rounds and justify terrorising a family on the back of a so-called hunt for insurgents, particularly when it concerns a reporter who is asking serious questions about corruption in high places.”
The IFJ says that unless the American authorities give a full explanation over why the raid took place, speculation will continue that this was a crude and terrifying attempt to discourage a legitimate journalistic investigation.
For further information contact: +32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries