Mohamed al-Saeed, Syrian State TV, July 19, 2012, Damascus
Mohamed al-Saeed, a presenter for Syrian state television, was kidnapped in Damascus, according to news reports. Al-Nusra Front, an armed Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed in a statement, to have beheaded al-Saeed on August 4, news reports said. No news organization or other source, however, independently confirmed his death. Al-Saeed hosted a daily show called "Hadith al-Balad" (Talk of the Country) for the state broadcaster, news reports said.
Bashar Fahmi, Al-Hurra, August 20, 2012, Aleppo
Fahmi, a reporter for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra and a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin, and his colleague Cüneyt Ünal, a Turkish cameraman for the broadcaster, were reported missing while covering events in the northwestern city of Aleppo on August 20.
Six days later, Ünal appeared in a video, saying he had been taken captive while reporting in Syria. He did not explicitly name his captors, although the video appeared on a pro-government television channel, and he made no mention of Fahmi. Ünal is believed to be held in government custody.
No further information is known about Fahmi’s whereabouts or condition.
Miguel Morales Estrada, Diario de Poza Rica and Tribuna Papanteca, July 19, 2012, Poza Rica, Veracruz
Morales, a crime photojournalist for the daily Diario de Poza Rica and a freelancer for the newspaper Tribuna Papanteca in the town of Papantla in Veracruz state, was last seen by his wife in the city of Poza Rica, news reports said. He disappeared after telling staff at Diario de Poza Rica that he needed to get out of the city "for personal reasons," according to a statement from the Veracruz attorney general's office.
Morales' wife filed a complaint with the Veracruz state prosecutor on July 23, according to news reports. Authorities said they launched an investigation into the reporter's disappearance, news reports said.
Local journalists told CPJ that Morales' disappearance had heightened fear among the Veracruz press corps.
Marco Antonio López Ortiz, Novedades Acapulco, June 7, 2011, Acapulco
The daily newspaper Novedades Acapulco reported on June 9 that López, its news editor, had been abducted by a group of men two nights earlier. López's supervisor, Armando Robles, told CPJ that when López did not arrive at the paper the day before, a group of reporters began to retrace his movements. The editor left work at 10:30 p.m. the night of the 7th and then went to visit his godfather at his home, leaving the house around 11:30 p.m., Robles said.
Witnesses told Robles that a group of men assaulted López as he crossed a street. People gathered at a corner taco stand said they thought they were witnessing a robbery, "but the men took him away. We don't know why." Robles said.
Among other responsibilities, López, 42, managed the paper's coverage of crime. Journalists in Acapulco told CPJ that they are under constant threat by organized crime groups to keep coverage to a minimum.
Robles said the paper’s crime stories are cautious and
limited, with details almost always constrained to what the police release officially, as the staff hopes to avoid angering crime cartels that are fighting
for control of Acapulco. "We don't investigate," Robles said. Publishing more in-depth information could make them targets.
In October, the editor’s sister Rosa Isela López Ortiz told the local newspaper La Jornada Guerrero that the state prosecutor’s office had taken a DNA sample from López’s father to see if the missing journalist was among any of the unidentified bodies that have turned up in the region, but that there was no match. Beyond that, she said, the family has received zero communication from authorities regarding the investigation. All the family wants, she told the newspaper, is for López to be returned to them, in whatever condition. “We’re hoping that they’ll give him back to us soon in any way, alive or dead -- we just want to know where he is.”
Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, El Mañanero, September 17, 2011, Acayucán
Fonseca was last seen
leaving his house in
Fonseca, 18, covered the police beat for El Mañanero. Federal authorities said the local police in this region are widely controlled by organized crime groups, news reports said. Many journalists tailor their reporting so as to not offend crime bosses or political allies, local journalists told CPJ.
Journalists said they have not been able to reach Fonseca on his cell phone, news reports said. One journalist told the police that she received a garbled text message from Fonseca’s number, but was not able to reach him when she tried calling.
Sources told CPJ that
Fonseca’s disappearance is deepening the fear in
Miguel Angel Domínguez Zamora, El Mañana, March 2010, Reynosa
Pedro Argüello, El Mañana and La Tarde, March 2010, Reynosa
Domínguez and Argüello, reporters with El Mañana newspaper group in the Mexican city of Reynosa, near the Texas border, went missing during a wave of drug violence in the border city that endangered the local media, according to press reports and CPJ interviews.
A third reporter for the newspaper group, David Silva, was also reported missing at the time. Silva reappeared months later, according to reports from several journalists, although the circumstances of his disappearance remained unclear.
Ramón Ángeles Zalpa, Cambio de Michoacán, April 6, 2010, Paracho
Ángeles, a part-time correspondent for the newspaper Cambio de Michoacán, was last seen leaving home to go to the National University of Pedagogy, where he worked as a professor, his son, Rommell David Ángeles Méndez, told CPJ.
Juan Ignacio Salazar, chief of correspondents for the Morelia-based Cambio de Michoacán, told CPJ that Ángeles was a general assignment reporter who did not routinely cover sensitive stories. In March 2010, however, Ángeles covered an armed attack on a local indigenous family, Salazar said. The journalist did not report receiving any threats, he said.Ángeles’ son told CPJ that the journalist received an anonymous phone call two days before he vanished, but he said that his father did not disclose details of the call. “We don’t know what happened,” Ángeles’ son said. “My father never mentioned having any enemies or fear. He just vanished.” Federal and state investigators said a missing-person investigation was ongoing. No leads have been disclosed.
Prageeth Eknelygoda, Lanka
January 24, 2010, Colombo
Eknelygoda, a cartoonist and columnist for the online news
outlet, was last seen by his wife and two teenage sons as he left his house for
work two days before the presidential elections that gave the incumbent
President Mahindra Rajapaksa a sweeping victory.
Eknelygoda, a cartoonist and columnist for the online news outlet, was last seen by his wife and two teenage sons as he left his house for work two days before the presidential elections that gave the incumbent President Mahindra Rajapaksa a sweeping victory.
Though the case was transferred from local police to
the Colombo Crimes Division, no progress was reported. The
journalist’s wife, Sandhya, told CPJ she was unable to persuade police or other
officials to actively investigate the case; a complaint she brought before the
Human Rights Court also proved fruitless.
Though the case was transferred from local police to the Colombo Crimes Division, no progress was reported. The journalist’s wife, Sandhya, told CPJ she was unable to persuade police or other officials to actively investigate the case; a complaint she brought before the Human Rights Court also proved fruitless.
The staff of Lanka
eNews, which had opposed Rajapaksa’s government, faced harsh intimidation over all; its
editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, went into exile in March 2010. In the ensuing
months, Eknelygoda’s unexplained disappearance sent a chill through the entire Sri
Lankan press corps, which had faced other severe instances of violence and
The staff of Lanka eNews, which had opposed Rajapaksa’s government, faced harsh intimidation over all; its editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, went into exile in March 2010. In the ensuing months, Eknelygoda’s unexplained disappearance sent a chill through the entire Sri Lankan press corps, which had faced other severe instances of violence and intimidation.
Vasyl Klymentyev, Novyi Stil, August 11, 2010, Kharkiv
Vasyl Klymentyev, Novyi Stil, August 11, 2010, Kharkiv
Klymentyev, chief editor of the independent weekly Novyi Stil, was last seen leaving his home in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, with an unknown man driving a BMW, local press reports said. His girlfriend reported him missing to police.
On August 18, Kharkiv police said in a statement that Klymentyev’s cell phone had been found in a boat at a nearby lake. Police divers did not find the journalist’s body in the lake, local press reports said.
Klymentyev’s deputy, Petr Matviyenko, told the Ukrainian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he and Klymentyev had photographed what he described as lavish homes belonging to local officials just two days before the disappearance.
specialized in reporting on corruption in local government and law enforcement,
RFE/RL reported. Matviyenko told
specialized in reporting on corruption in local government and law enforcement,
RFE/RL reported. Matviyenko told
María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, El Diario de
Zamora and Cambio de Michoacán. November 11,
Aguilar, 32, a veteran reporter and mother of two, was last seen leaving her home in Zamora, in the central state of Michoacán, after receiving a cell phone call, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. State and federal authorities have not disclosed any leads or suspects in the case.
Aguilar reported for regional news outlets, including the Zamora-based daily El Diario de Zamora and the regional daily Cambio de Michoacán. While her coverage varied, she tended to focus on organized crime and local corruption. In the weeks before she vanished, Aguilar’s reporting highlighted police abuse allegations, the military’s anti-cartel efforts, and the arrest in Zamora of at least three individuals, including a politician’s son, on suspicion of collusion with organized crime groups. On October 27, her story on local police abuse was followed by the resignation of a high-ranking official. Soon after that piece ran, she reported on the arrest of a reputed local leader of the cartel La Familia Michoacana.
Aware of possible reprisals, Aguilar did not include her byline on many risky stories, colleagues told CPJ. She did not mention receiving threats before her disappearance, they said.
Her husband, David Silva, told CPJ that the influence of the cartels in Zamora was so strong he did not have faith in police to determine what happened. “With most of the police here you don’t know who you’re talking to—a detective or a representative of organized crime,” he said.
Oralgaisha Omarshanova (Zhabagtaikyzy), Zakon i Pravosudiye, March 30, 2007, Almaty
Omarshanova, the 39-year-old investigative reporter for the Astana-based independent weekly Zakon i Pravosudiye (Law and Justice) was last seen in Kazakhstan's financial capital, Almaty, where she was on a business trip with several colleagues. Her colleagues said they last saw her on the afternoon of March 30 getting into a jeep, the Moscow-based news agency Regnum reported. Omarshanova directed the paper's anti-corruption department.
Four days before her disappearance, Omarshanova had published an article in Zakon i Pravosudiye about ethnic clashes between rival Chechen and Kazakh residents in the Almaty region villages of Kazatkom and Malovodnoye. The clashes, which took place on March 17 and 18, claimed at least five lives, according to local and international news reports. In her article, Omarshanova identified the instigators of the unrest and mentioned their alleged connection to the government and local businesses, the Almaty-based press freedom group Adil Soz reported.
In February, the paper published an investigative report by Omarshanova that exposed the dangerous working conditions of miners in the central city of Zhezkazgan, according to international news reports.
At a press conference in Almaty on April 11, the journalist's brother, Zhanat Omarshanov, told reporters that in the weeks prior to her disappearance, Omarshanova had received several death threats by telephone warning her to stop her reporting, Regnum reported.
During the press conference, Zakon i Pravosudiye reporterMukhit Iskakov said Omarshanova told him she had purchased a rifle to defend herself after receiving the threats, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
On September 10, at a press conference organized by Adil Soz and the Union of Journalists of Kazakhstan, Interior Ministry Lieutenant Colonel Baltabek Kuanyshev, who is in charge of the investigation, told journalists that Omarshanova's disappearance seems not to be connected to her professional activities. Kuanyshev said Omarshanova may be alive but forcibly kept in captivity by criminals. He did not explain the substance behind these conclusions, though.
Oralgaisha Omarshanova is also known by her pen name, Oralgaisha Zhabagtaikyzy.
Gamaliel López Candanosa, TV Azteca Noreste, May 10, 2007, Monterrey
Gerardo Paredes Pérez, TV Azteca Noreste, May 10, 2007, Monterrey
Reporter López and camera operator Paredes vanished after covering the birth of conjoined twins at a hospital in the northern city of Monterrey. They were last heard from about 4 p.m., when they checked in with their station, a regional affiliate of the national TV Azteca, according to Mexican press reports.
Their Chevrolet compact, bearing the TV Azteca logo, also disappeared, according to press reports and CPJ interviews. Neither journalist had reported any prior threats, according to the state prosecutor’s office in Nuevo León.
Soon after the disappearance, then-state prosecutor Luis Carlos Treviño Berchelman told local reporters that López had ties to the Zetas criminal group, an assertion that TV Azteca denied. At the time of the disappearances, cartel-related violence was escalating in Monterrey, with groups such as the Zetas engaging in public violence.
Rafael Ortiz Martínez, Zócalo and XHCCG, July 8, 2006, Monclava
Ortiz, a reporter for the Monclova-based daily Zócalo and host of the morning news program "Radio Zócalo" on XHCCG, was last seen leaving the newspaper's offices in a red car at 1:30 a.m. on July 8. Sergio Cisneros, Zócalo's editor, said Ortiz had been editing material for a radio show the next morning.
A Zócalo company car arrived at 6 a.m. on July 9 to pick up Ortiz, but the journalist was not home. His father, Rafael Ortiz del Toro, reported the disappearance to the Coahuila state prosecutor on the morning of July 10.
No one heard from Ortiz since, and there were no signs of the car in which he was last seen, Cohauila Police Lt. Aurelio Masías told CPJ. Masías said the investigation had no concrete leads but police were focusing on Ortiz's work.
Ortiz had reported on the prevalence of prostitution in Monclova, the resulting spread of HIV/AIDS, and its effect on families.
José Antonio García Apac, Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec, November 20, 2006, Morelia
García Apac, editor of the weekly paper Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec, has been missing since November 20, 2006. That evening, he pulled over to call his family on his way home on a highway in the central state of Michoacán. The 55-year-old father of six has not been seen since.
As García was driving home to Morelia, the state capital, he stopped to call his family. While on the phone with his son, García was overheard responding to several men who asked his identity, family members told CPJ. The assailants then ordered the journalist to hang up the phone. Sounds of García being dragged away were heard before the line went dead.
García, nicknamed "El Chino," reported regularly on organized crime in Michoacán. His wife Rosa Isela Caballero told CPJ that in February 2006, García compiled a list of Michoacán state officials, including police officers, who he believed were linked to criminal groups. He took the list to his sources in Mexico City's federal anti-organized crime squad for corroboration. According to Caballero, colleagues believe this may have played a role in García's disappearance.
Caballero has demanded a thorough investigation of her husband's disappearance, but the authorities say they have no leads to follow, she told CPJ.
Despite García's absence, Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec still circulates on a bimonthly basis. Caballero now oversees the newspaper. A passport-size photo of García, with a caption demanding that his case be solved is featured on the upper right-hand side of each issue.
Elyuddin Telaumbanua, Berita Sore, August 17, 2005, Nias
Telaumbanua, a journalist with the daily Berita Sore, was reported missing on the island of Nias off the northwestern coast of Sumatra on August 22.
Telaumbanua left his home in the northern town of Gunungsitoli on August 17 for a reporting trip, promising to return home after several days, according to his wife. An editor for Berita Sore told local reporters that Telaumbanua may have disappeared while reporting on a murder in the island's southern Teluk Daram district. Telaumbanua, 51, had also recently reported on criminal gangs, local corruption, and irregularities in recent local elections, sources told CPJ.
Ukuran Maruhawa, a journalist traveling home with Telaumbanua, said that the two were ambushed on August 22 by a group of six men riding three motorcycles who forcibly took Telaumbanua away, The Jakarta Post reported. Local journalists told CPJ that they fear Telaumbanua is dead. Citing unnamed witnesses, Berita Sore reported that the journalist was beaten and killed by gangsters on August 24.
Journalists and family members have protested to police and lawmakers, urging them to find those responsible for his disappearance. Hundreds of journalists gathered in Medan in northern Sumatra on September 15 to protest the ongoing delays in the investigation.
Alfredo Jiménez Mota, El Imparcial, April 2, 2005, Hermosillo
Jiménez, a crime reporter for the Hermosillo-based daily, disappeared from his home in the city of Hermosillo in the northwestern state of Sonora at about 9 p.m. on April 2. That night, he called a colleague at El Imparcial to say that he was going to meet with one of his contacts, according to Juan F. Healy, president and general director of the daily. Jiménez told his colleague that the contact was "very nervous." No one has heard from Jiménez since that call.
Jiménez, 25, lives alone in Hermosillo and has been working with El Imparcial for the last six months. Police said that no belongings were taken and nothing was disturbed.
Recent articles of Jiménez have investigated drug-trafficking families in the region. Sonora prosecutors have linked his disappearance with his journalistic work.
According to CPJ's recent research, Mexico's northern states have become one of the most hazardous places in Latin America for journalists to practice their profession. Journalists like Jiménez, who cover crime and drug trafficking, are particularly vulnerable.
Isam al-Shumari, Sudost Media, August 15, 2004, Fallujah
Al-Shumari, a cameraman for Sudost Media, a small production company that provides footage to Germany's N24 television, is believed to have disappeared in Fallujah on August 15. His disappearance came the same day his friend, cameraman Mahmoud Abbas, who was working with the German television station ZDF, was killed while on assignment. Al-Shumari's relatives told an N24 journalist in Baghdad that he had traveled to Fallujah with Abbas on August 15. Although al-Shumari was not on assignment for Sudost Media or N24, he may have been assisting his friend, Abbas, with his work. CPJ is currently seeking more information about his disappearance.
IVORY COAST: 1
Guy-André Kieffer, freelance, April 16, 2004, Abidjan
Kieffer, one of the few foreign investigative reporters still based in Ivory Coast, was last seen on April 16, according to local and international press reports. In the weeks prior to his disappearance, Kieffer received death threats, according to his family and friends, who fear that he has been killed. The journalist has both French and Canadian citizenship.
Since then his cell phone has been switched off, and his family has not heard from him. Unconfirmed reports in the opposition press have suggested that members of the security forces abducted and killed Kieffer. Reports that the tortured corpse of a white man was seen in Azaguié, near Abidjan, also remain unconfirmed.
The missing journalist is also a commodities consultant who specializes in the Ivory Coast's lucrative cocoa and coffee sectors for a company that had contracts with the government. He had conducted numerous investigations in these sectors, including exposing corruption. His freelance work included contributions to the Paris-based African business newsletter Lettre du Continent.
On May 25, Michel Legré, a brother-in-law of Ivory Coast's first lady, was detained in the commercial capital, Abidjan, and formally charged as an accessory in the kidnapping, confinement, and murder of Kieffer, according to international news reports. According to local press reports, Kieffer, was on his way to meet Legré when he disappeared.
A French judicial inquiry has been under way since May 3, after Kieffer's wife filed a complaint in a Paris court. France and Ivory Coast have a bilateral treaty on judicial cooperation dating back to Ivorian independence in 1960.
In the days before he was detained, Legré testified for 10 hours before a French investigating judge and blamed people close to the Ivorian government for Kieffer's disappearance, according to local and international press reports. On May 21, the French judge, Patrick Ramael, complained to the Ivorian state prosecutor that he has been unable to question the government officials that Legré implicated and asked the prosecutor to intervene.
While the government has charged Legré with being an accessory to murder, Kieffer's body has not been recovered, and the government has yet to present evidence that he was killed.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 1
Acquitté Kisembo, Agence France-Presse, June 26, 2003, Bunia
Kisembo, a 28 year-old medical student who was recruited by Agence France-Presse (AFP) to work as a fixer in the northeastern Ituri region, a notoriously dangerous and unstable area, was reported missing in Bunia, Ituri's main town. The last person to report seeing Kisembo alive was Anthony Morland, an AFP journalist who was working with him.
Local journalists believe that Kisembo was abducted by militiamen loyal to the rebel Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), which controlled Bunia until it was dislodged by a French-led international peacekeeping force earlier in June. Reports suggest that there was UPC resentment at locals perceived to be collaborating with the foreign presence in Bunia. However, the reasons behind Kisembo's disappearance remain unclear.
According to Morland, Kisembo was first hired as a general fixer, but later was given some reporting duties. On the day he disappeared, Kisembo had been assigned to interview displaced people returning to Bunia.
At the time Kisembo was reported missing, Ituri was emerging from several years of bloodletting, violence, and ethnic conflict, spurred by the region's richness in natural resources. According to journalists who have visited Ituri, disappearances, arbitrary killings, and other severe human rights abuses were all common in Ituri at the time.
Morland told CPJ that he had investigated Kisembo's disappearance and was unable to locate any independent witnesses. UPC leader Thomas Lubanga told AFP that Kisembo was killed by militia from a rival ethnic militia, but was unable to substantiate the allegation, according to Morland.
On the evening before his disappearance, Kisembo was threatened by men outside houses occupied by the UPC, Morland said. At the time, he was with a group of international journalists watching the departure from Bunia of the last UPC gunmen, in line with an ultimatum issued by the peacekeeping force.
Kinshasa-based press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) told CPJ that Kisembo was believed to have been assassinated by his kidnappers.
Reda Helal, Al-Ahram, August 11, 2003, Cairo
Helal, an editor with Egypt's semiofficial daily Al-Ahram, has been missing since August 11, 2003. Helal, considered controversial by some because of his outspoken support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, was last seen entering his home in the capital, Cairo, on the afternoon he disappeared. Local journalists say there is little evidence pointing to who kidnapped him, or if he was even kidnapped. CPJ continues to investigate the case.
Fred Nerac, ITV News, March 22, 2003, Iman Anas
On March 22, veteran ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd, cameraman Nerac, and translator Hussein Othman came under fire while driving to the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The journalists were not embedded with military forces.
The three men, along with cameraman Daniel Demoustier, were traveling in two marked press vehicles in the town of Iman Anas, near Al-Zubayr, when they came under fire, ITN reported. According to Demoustier, the car he and Lloyd had been driving had been pursued by Iraqi troops who may have been attempting to surrender to the journalists. Demoustier reported that the incoming fire to their vehicles likely came from U.S. or British forces in the area.
Demoustier, who was injured when the car he was driving crashed into a ditch and caught fire, managed to escape. He said he did not see what happened to Lloyd, who was seated next to him, or to the other crew members. Lloyd's body was recovered in a hospital in Basra days later.
An investigative article published in the Wall Street Journal in May indicated that Lloyd's SUV and another vehicle belonging to his colleagues came under fire from U.S. Marines. The article cited accounts from U.S. troops who recalled opening fire on cars marked "TV." Soldiers also said they believed that Iraqi suicide bombers were using the cars to attack U.S. troops.
The Journal article cited a report from a British security firm commissioned by ITN to investigate the incident saying that Lloyd's car was hit by both coalition and Iraqi fire; the latter most likely came from behind the car, possibly after the vehicle had crashed.
The report concluded that "[t]he Iraqis no doubt mounted an attack using the ITN crew as cover, or perhaps stumbled into the U.S. forces whilst attempting to detain the ITN crew." The report also speculated that Nerac and Othman, who were last seen by Demoustier in another car being stopped by Iraqi forces--might have been pulled out of their car before it came under fire from coalition forces, and then Iraqi forces used the SUV to attack the coalition forces.
In April, Nerac's wife approached U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell at a NATO press conference, and he promised to do everything in his power to find out what had happened to the missing men. In late May, Centcom said that it was investigating the incident, while the British Ministry of Defense promised to open an inquiry. Neither had made public any results as of October.
In September, London's The Daily Mirror newspaper reported the testimony of an Iraqi man named Hamid Aglan who had allegedly tried to rescue the wounded Lloyd in a civilian minibus. Aglan told the newspaper that he had picked up a lightly wounded Lloyd, who had suffered only a shoulder injury, and attempted to take him to hospital in Basra when the minibus came under fire from a U.S. helicopter, killing Lloyd. The paper reported that the bus was also carrying wounded Iraqi soldiers.
An ITN spokesperson told CPJ that a number of elements of Aglan's story are not consistent with ITN's own investigation. She said an autopsy revealed that Lloyd had suffered two serious wounds that likely resulted from Iraqi and U.S. fire. She said that after he was wounded, an Iraqi civilian in a minibus had picked up Lloyd and tried to take him to a hospital in Basra. The minibus later came under U.S. attack. "It was a gunshot to the bus and [Terry] was probably in the bus," she said. ITN investigators believe that either wound that Lloyd sustained would have been fatal.
According to ITV, when the journalists disappeared, Nerac was wearing three press cards--one American and two Kuwaiti--containing his name and photo. He had on a blue Gortex jacket, khaki trousers, thick Gortex shoes, and a silver watch. He has dark brown hair and gold-colored, round-rimmed glasses. Nerac has a fairly recent scar (about 2 inches [4 to 5 centimeters] long) on one side of his buttocks.
Othman was also wearing three press cards--one American and two Kuwaiti--containing his name and photo, said ITV. He was dressed in dark-colored, casual clothes. Othman is 5 feet 6 inches (1.70 meters) tall, with a medium build and short, thinning, dark hair.
Ali Astamirov, Agence France-Presse, July 4, 2003, Ingushetia, Russia
Astamirov, a 34-year-old correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, was abducted on July 4 by unknown armed assailants in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia.
Astamirov, who is married and has two children, previously worked for Chechnya's Grozny Television. He was based in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran, and had worked for AFP for more than a year. He reported on politically sensitive issues, primarily the conflict in Chechnya and the plight of Chechen refuges in neighboring Ingushetia.
The journalist was kidnapped while he and two colleagues, humanitarian worker Ruslan Musayev and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) stringer Aslambek Dadayev, were driving through Nazran and stopped for gas.
A white vehicle blocked the car, and three armed men in camouflage attire--two of whom were wearing masks--seized the journalists' cell phones, pulled Astamirov out of the car, and drove off in the direction of Chechnya.
Russian law enforcement authorities launched a criminal investigation into the incident but have not reported any progress.
Astamirov's fate remains unknown, and the abductors have not contacted the journalist's family or AFP with demands.
According to AFP, Astamirov had received telephone threats in the months prior to his abduction and had moved to a different house because he feared for his safety. On July 24, AFP reported that a reliable source in Chechnya told the news agency that the journalist was still alive and that he was being held in Chechnya. The source provided no further details.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 1
Belmonde Magloire Missinhoun, Le Point Congo, October 3, 1998, Kinshasa
Missinhoun, a citizen of Benin and owner of the independent financial newspaper La Pointe Congo, has not been seen since he was arrested after a traffic accident with a military vehicle in the capital, Kinshasa. Police investigations into the journalist's disappearance have yielded no results.
Missinhoun had lived in Kinshasa for approximately 30 years. La Pointe Congo has not published since the regime of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko fell in 1997. It is feared that the journalist, who had close ties to the Mobutu government, was killed.
In March 2003, Congolese sources told CPJ that no one has received any information about Missinhoun since his disappearance. Local sources said they saw the journalist's jeep re-painted in army colors after his arrest, and that they suspect he was killed.
Emmanuel Munyemanzi, Rwandan National Television, May 2, 1998, Kigali
Munyemanzi, head of production services at Rwandan National Television, disappeared on his way home from work in the capital, Kigali. Two months before his disappearance, the director of the Rwanda Information Office (Orinfor) accused the journalist of sabotage because of a technical problem that had occurred during the taping of a political debate. Munyemanzi was then suspended from his job and transferred to Orinfor's Studies and Programs Bureau.
In March 2003, one source told CPJ that the journalist's body was recovered shortly after he disappeared. CPJ was unable to confirm this report.
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO: 1
Djuro Slavuj, Radio Pristina, August 21, 1998, Orahovac
Slavuj, a reporter at the state-run Radio Pristina, and Ranko Perenic, his driver, disappeared while on assignment in Kosovo. They were last seen in the town of Orahovac, where they had left by car to travel to Malisevo to report on strife in the area. Milivoje Mihajlovic, Slavuj's editor, as well as Serbian officials and nongovernmental organizations, believe that fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army captured the two. They were the first ethnic Serbs working for the media reported missing during the Kosovo conflict of 1999.
Vitaly Shevchenko, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny
Andrei Bazvluk, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny
Yelena Petrova, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny
Shevchenko and Bazvluk, journalists from Lita-M, a small television company in Kharkhiv, Ukraine, were reported missing by their colleagues in early September 1996. Fellow correspondents last saw the pair on August 11 in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, during heavy fighting between Russian federal troops and Chechen fighters who had seized control of the city on August 6. Shevchenko and Bazvluk had reportedly traveled from their native Ukraine to Chechnya to cover the conflict. A third journalist, Yelena Petrova, a senior executive of Lita-M, was also believed to be missing. She did not contact her studio after mid-August, according to a colleague.
A representative of the Kharkiv Committee for Human Rights Protection told CPJ in March 2003 that the Lita-M television company no longer exists, and that the three are still missing. He also said that Shevchenko and Bazvluk were members of the ultranationalist Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense party. Other sources reported that the three were representatives of civic organizations and were involved in humanitarian work, making it unclear whether they were in Chechnya working as journalists.
Maksim Shabalin, Nevskoye Vremya, February 1995, Chechnya
Feliks Titov, Nevskoye Vremya, February 1995, Chechnya
Shabalin, assistant political editor of the St. Petersburg daily Nevskoye Vremya, and Titov, a photographer for the paper, were reported missing in Chechnya. They left Nazran on February 27, 1995, for their fifth trip to the breakaway republic since fighting there began in 1992.
According Nevskoye Vremya staff, the journalists were due back on March 4 but have not been heard from since and are presumed dead. Shabalin and Titov may not have had official accreditation from Russian authorities to enter Chechnya.
Colleagues at Nevskoye Vremya heard in September 1995 that the bodies of two journalists had been found in February 1995 in the Achoi Region of the republic. However, there were no documents or photographs confirming the bodies' identities. On June 16, 1995, Nevskoye Vremya correspondent Sergei Ivanov traveled to Chechnya to look for Shabalin and Titov, but he never returned and has not been heard from since.
Alla Manilova, editor-in-chief of Nevskoye Vremya, told CPJ in March 2003 that Shabalin, Titov, and Ivanov are still missing, and that she heard rumors in the mid-1990s that Chechen rebels had killed Shabalin and Titov.
Sergei Ivanov, Nevskoye Vremya, June 1995, Chechnya
Ivanov, a correspondent for the St. Petersburg daily Nevskoye Vremya, was last seen by his colleagues on June 16, 1995, when he left for Chechnya to look for Nevskoye Vremya journalists Maksim Shabalin and Feliks Titov, who had disappeared in February. By the end of 1995, Ivanov's colleagues had not heard from him, and they feared he was killed.
Alla Manilova, the editor-in-chief of Nevskoye Vremya, told CPJ in March 2003 that Shabalin, Titov, and Ivanov are still missing and that she heard rumors in the mid-1990s that Chechen rebels had killed Shabalin and Titov. She said that when Ivanov went to Chechnya to look for his colleages, the search team initially agreed not to split up, but Ivanov decided to go into the mountains on his own and was never heard from again.
Andrew Shumack, free-lancer, July 1995, Chechnya
Shumack, an American free-lance journalist, was last seen on July 28, 1995, when he left the Chechen capital of Grozny for the surrounding mountainous area. The St. Petersburg Press, an English-language newspaper, had provided Shumack with a letter of introduction on July 20 to help him obtain press credentials. In return, Shumack was to provide them with photographs and stories for three months. He is presumed dead because no one from the newspaper has heard from him since, and U.S. Embassy officials have not been able to locate him, despite repeated trips to the region.
Manasse Mugabo, United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda Radio, August 19, 1995, Rwanda
Mugabo, director of the UNAMIR radio service, left Rwanda's capital, Kigali, to go on vacation to Uganda and has not been heard from since. CPJ has been unable to find information regarding the journalist's whereabouts.
Mohamed Hassaine, Alger Républicain, March 1, 1994, Algiers
Hassaine, a reporter with the daily Alger Républicain, was kidnapped by unknown assailants. CPJ originally believed that Hassaine had been murdered based on his colleagues' reports of discovering Hassaine's decapitated body. But during interviews in the capital, Algiers, in October 1998, CPJ learned that Hassaine's body was in fact never found, and that there has been no evidence confirming his death.
Kazem Akhavan, IRNA, July 4, 1982, Byblos
Akhavan, a photographer for Iran's official news agency IRNA, and two officials from the Iranian Embassy in the capital, Beirut, were believed to have been kidnapped by Phalangist militiamen at a checkpoint near the northern city of Byblos and executed shortly after their abduction.
However, a March 18, 1998, story in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz raised suspicion that Israel may be holding the journalist. The story, written by Israeli journalist Josef al-Ghazi and based on information provided by the Israeli prison service, reported that three Iranian nationals were imprisoned in Israel at the time.
CPJ wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 15, 1998 requesting the names of the imprisoned Iranians but received no response.