IFJ Says New Killing and Kidnapping Cases Illustrate How Media Have Become “Easy Targets” in Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the latest killing of an Iraqi journalist and has added its voice to calls for the release of a British journalist and his Iraqi translator who were kidnapped from a hotel in Basra.

“This latest death and these new kidnappings highlight in the most horrifying way the dangers that continue to haunt journalism in Iraq,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Unfortunately our colleagues join a long list of journalists who have been in danger simply for doing their jobs. Media personnel have become easy targets for violent groups seeking to get attention.”

According to reports, the body of journalist Hisham Mijwit Hamdane, a 27-year-old married father of two, was found by police in Baghdad on Tuesday.

At the same time concern has grown over the fate of two men working for US television network CBS who were kidnapped at gunpoint from the Palace Sultan Hotel on Sunday by a group of men. Many Iraqi journalists have also been kidnapped, often with tragic results and their have been high-profile kidnappings of foreign journalists as well.

In 2004, French journalists, George Malbrunot, of Le Figaro newspaper, and Christian Chesnot, of Radio France Internationale, were kidnapped and released. Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni was kidnapped and killed in 2004 and his interpreter was also killed. French-American Micah Garen, was also held hostage with his interpreter that year and shown on television being threatened by kidnappers before his release.

French journalist Florence Aubenas was abducted in January 2005 and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was held in February 2005. Both were released. Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor was seized and her driver killed in western Baghdad in January 2006. She was released two months later.

Two-hundred and seventy-one journalists have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003, according to the Iraq Media Safety Group. The vast majority of those journalists were Iraqi.

At least three media workers have been killed in 2008. An explosion on the road to Samarra on January 29 killed Alforat satellite TV photographer Alaa Abedalkerim Qasem and driver Alaa A'si Albeldawi. Fatmah Alhesen, an editor for Alforat was severely injured in the attack.

For more information contact the IFJ at + 32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide