The International Federation of Journalists has called for the immediate release of British reporter Yvonne Ridley, on assignment for the Daily Express in London, who was arrested by Taliban security forces after slipping over the border into Afghanistan. She now faces possible charges of spying.
"Journalism is about telling truthful stories, not espionage and it is ridiculous to suggest that this reporter is guilty of anything other than enthusiasm to carry out her job," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary of the IFJ, the world's largest journalists' group.
The IFJ has welcomed the joint initiative of the newspaper company and the British National Union of Journalists to try to secure her immediate release. "Journalists should be free to work without fear of arrest," said the IFJ, which has also issued a warning to journalists reporting in the region to prepare themselves well for the difficult conditions they face.
"No story is worth the life of a journalist and media organisations should ensure that their reporters are properly trained, equipped and informed about the problems they will face," said Aidan White.
The IFJ warns journalists against taking unnecessary risks and says that special attention should be paid to the needs of freelance reporters and photo-journalists who are often most vulnerable when reporting from high-risk areas.
"These are dangerous times for everyone in the region and journalists need to be more careful than ever," says the IFJ.
The IFJ has established, with foreign correspondents in Brussels and the Belgium Journalists' Association, a special help and advice centre for journalists that will provide journalists with information on working in dangerous regions. Further information: Journalists @ Your Service, email: [email protected], Tel: + 32 2 235 22 01