The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the reported detentions of several Baghdad-based staff members of the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
Iraqi police detained Mostafa Darban, IRNA's Baghdad bureau chief, and as many as three Iraqi staff members on Monday, according to international news reports. The circumstances of the reported detentions remain unclear.
A spokesman for the interim Iraqi government told CPJ today that he had no details of the reported arrests. Hassan Lavasani, IRNA's international news editor, said his news agency had not been told why the journalists were arrested, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.
Lavasani said IRNA staff members Hassan Mohammed Khafaji and Mohsen Madani were arrested along with the bureau chief, "and we don't know what has happened to a fourth" staff member, AFP reported. Office equipment was also seized, Lavasani said.
The Associated Press reported that the Iranian government had summoned Khalil Salman al-Sabihi, Iraq's charge d'affaires to Tehran, on Wednesday and demanded the journalists' release.
As an independent organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ urgently requests that you make public the basis on which Mostafa Darban and his colleagues are being held. CPJ urges their immediate and unconditional release unless it can be credibly shown they are guilty of an offense recognizable under international law.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your response.
Ann K. Cooper