Abducted US Journalist, Iraqi Translator Freed

Baghdad, August 22, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release in Iraq on Sunday of U.S. journalist Micah Garen and his Iraqi translator Amir Doushi, who were abducted by gunmen on or about August 13 in the city of Nasiriyah.

A CPJ representative spoke to Garen and Doushi and confirmed they are free and appeared well. Garen and Doushi were released late Sunday evening, Iraq time, by a group calling itself the Martyrs Brigade. The two were released to Sheik Aws al-Khafaji, a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who had been negotiating for the release of both men over the past few days.

“We welcome the release of our colleagues and are relieved that this ordeal is finally over,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call, once again, on all parties to the conflict in Iraq to cease further attacks against journalists.”

Garen, a documentary journalist with U.S.-based Four Corners Media, and his translator Doushi, were abducted on or about August 13 by two armed men in civilian clothes in a busy market in the southern city of Nasiriyah, according to press reports.

On Wednesday, the Martyrs Brigade had threatened to kill Garen unless U.S. forces withdrew from the city of Najaf. The group released a video purporting to show Garen kneeling in front of five armed, masked men.

Garen had been working on a project about the looting of antiquities near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. Four Corners Media, which produces documentary work in still photography, video and print media, has undertaken projects for many prominent Western news organizations.

Garen was the 11th journalist abducted by an armed group in Iraq in 2004, according to CPJ research. All were eventually released. CPJ is currently investigating reports that at least three other journalists have gone missing in Iraq in the past few days.

Since March 2003 at least 31 journalists and 11 media workers have been killed in Iraq by Iraqi forces, armed groups, and U.S. troops.