IFJ & Media Alliance Welcome the Release of an Australian Journalist in Iraq

Joint Media Release IFJ/ Media Alliance:

The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate in Australia the Media Alliance have today welcomed the release of Australian SBS journalist John Martinkus by Sunni militants and ex-Iraqi army officers in Iraq.

Martinkus, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped in front of a Baghdad Hotel directly across the road from the Australian Embassy on 17 October 2004 at approximately 5pm. He was held and interrogated for 20 hours before being released on 18 October.

According to ABC television's Lateline program, Martinkus' life was threatened but he was released unharmed when he told his kidnappers that he was an independent journalist and had no links to the US-led coalition in Iraq.

"While we welcome the release of John Martinkus it is unacceptable that journalists are seen as legitimate targets," said IFJ President and Alliance Federal Secretary Christopher Warren.

"To ensure balanced and fair reporting, all sides need to recognise the vital role independent journalists play in a conflict zone," said Warren.

The kidnapping follows the launch of an IFJ led campaign which condemns the targeting of independent media coverage and reporting in Iraq.

With the murder of two journalists over the weekend, Karam Hussein, an Iraqi photographer and Dina Mohammad Hassan, a correspondent for Al-Hurriya TV, Iraq continues its reputation as the most dangerous place for journalists to work. These deaths bring the total number of media staff and journalists killed in Iraq since the US-led coalition invasion in March 2003 to 54.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.
The Media Alliance represents more than 10,000 journalists across Australia

For more information please contact Christopher Warren on +61 (0) 411 757 668