IFJ Condemns New Hostage Outrage as Three Romanian Reporters are Taken in Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the kidnapping and targeting of journalists in Iraq following the latest disappearance of three Romanian reporters.

Yesterday, Marie-Jeanne Ion, reporter and Sorin Miscoci, cameraman for Prima TV, Eduard Ohanesian of the Romania Libera newspaper, and their Iraqi guide went missing shortly after an interview with the interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi following a visit to Iraq by the President of Romania.

“Once again journalists are targeted in Iraq and once again innocent professionals are being used as bargaining chips by ruthless political or criminal groups,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Journalists everywhere will be outraged by this latest incident, which adds to the catalogue of killings, kidnappings and intimidation endured by reporters and media staff throughout this conflict.”

Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, at least 76 journalists and media staff have been killed and up to 32 have been taken hostage, of which 27 were released and 3 executed. French reporter, Florence Aubenas, and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi remain in hostage since 5 January 2005.

Journalists around the world are meeting in Bilbao this weekend to examine the impact of the war on terrorism on media. The safety of journalists and the increasing readiness of different sides in a conflict to use and abuse media will be at the top of the agenda.

According to reports from the Romanian news agency Mediafax, the journalists sent a telephone text message confirming that they had been taken hostage in a suburb of Baghdad. No new developments were immediately expected and no ransom demand has so far been received by the authorities.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries