New York, October 25, 2002—Iraq’s government has ordered a number of foreign news reporters to leave the country after their recent coverage of events inside Iraq angered authorities.
The U.S. network CNN reported that its chief Baghdad correspondent, Jane Arraf, and five other non-Iraqi reporters and staff members were ordered to leave the country by Monday.
CNN said the network’s coverage angered officials, particularly reports on anti-government protests that erupted last week at the Ministry of Information in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, following the release of amnestied government prisoners.
The Associated Press also reported yesterday that although such networks as the BBC and the U.S.-based CBS have not received any notice from the Iraqi government, authorities have ordered reporters from NBC and ABC, also of the United States, to leave.
Iraqi officials warned CNN that they would now institute even tighter controls on foreign reporters by allowing only one non-Iraqi journalist from each news organization into the country and permitting visits no longer than 10 days.
“We call on the Iraqi government to allow journalists to report on events in Iraq, which are of great international importance,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.
Iraq is already one of the most difficult places in the world for foreign reporters to work. The government imposes tight restrictions on their movement, and foreign journalists are assigned a government minder from the Ministry of Information whose presence during interviews often intimidates sources.