New York, March 21, 2003— Iraqi officials today expelled the U.S. news network CNN from the capital, Baghdad. Correspondents Nic Robertson and Rym Barhimi, as well as a producer and cameraman, were ordered to leave the country and will depart this evening for Jordan, CPJ sources confirmed.
CNN has not yet released a comment about the reason for the expulsion.
“CPJ is alarmed by this expulsion, especially because the journalists will be traveling in Iraq during intensive military operations,” said CPJ acting director Joel Simon.
In Kuwait, where U.S. troops have launched a southern incursion into Iraq, CPJ sources say that Kuwaiti authorities have prevented some non-embedded journalists from moving beyond Kuwait’s “military exclusion zone,” which the Kuwaiti government imposed in the country’s northern half on February 15. Only individuals with government permits are able to travel beyond the zone.
Many non-embedded journalists are reportedly waiting until the situation along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border becomes safer before attempting to move north. Several journalists, according to CPJ sources, are camped along the border, where they arrived before the outbreak of hostilities two days ago.
CPJ continues to monitor press access in northern Kuwait, as well as in Jordan and northern Iraq.
U.S. media so far appear pleased with the “embed” coverage provided by the Pentagon; CPJ is not aware of any formal complaints from news organizations about the system. However, on Tuesday, March 18, U.S. assistant secretary of defense, Victoria Clarke, told journalists that she had warned some members of the media that they had divulged too much information about military operations.