The International Federation of Journalists today expressed concern over the growing number of foreign reporters being harassed by United States forces in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime on May 1.
“There is a growing sense that military frustration over continuing hostility in Iraq is leading to acts of intolerance against journalists and media,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Putting pressure on reporters will not make the occupation any easier. If anything, it will only make matters worse.”
On 29 July, US-led coalition forces revealed that Said Abu Taleb and Soheil Kareemi, two Iranian State Television journalists, were being detained for “security violations” after they had been arrested in Diwaniyah on 1 July even though US Central Command has failed to provide evidence justifying these claims.
On July 28, US soldiers in Baghdad beat up Kazutaka Sato, a Japanese reporter for the independent news outlet, Japan Press, and briefly detained him while he was filming a raid on a house in search for ousted President Saddam Hussein.
On July 27, US troops detained four Turkish journalists - Yalçin Dogan, Özdemir Ince, Faruk Balikiçi and Ferit Aslan – and destroyed pictures taken by them with a digital camera.
On the same day, Nawaf al-Shahwani of Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera was arrested and had his film confiscated. Al-Shahwani and his driver were held until the following evening.
“All of these incidents are difficult to justify and reflect a new mood of intolerance,” said White. “Journalists who are not under direct military protection are treated with suspicion and their rights are set aside. This is unacceptable. Journalists must be able to work freely – even when they are reporting a story that military people do not like.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries