Journalist detained in Fallujah by U.S. troops

New York, November 17, 2004—A freelance journalist working for The Associated Press and the Arabic-language, Dubai-based satellite channel Al-Arabiya has been detained by U.S. troops in Fallujah since November 11, according to staff at Al-Arabiya.

Najwa Kassem, a correspondent for Al-Arabiya, told CPJ that the station lost contact with Abdel Kader Saadi, a reporter and photographer who works and resides in Fallujah, on November 11. She said that Al-Arabiya staff did not know what had happened to Saadi for three days.

Kassem said that the station staff became aware of Saadi’s detention on Sunday, when a correspondent for the station who entered Fallujah with the Red Crescent reported that Saadi had been arrested inside a Fallujah mosque, along with several other civilians who had been asked by the U.S. military to go there.

According to a statement posted on Al-Arabiya’s Web site today, Saadi was working when he was detained in the mosque and was wearing a flak jacket with the word “Press” on it in Arabic and English. The statement also said that the U.S. military admitted to detaining Saadi and said that he would be released after “completing procedures.”

“Saadi should be released immediately,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “The U.S. military has no basis to continue holding Saadi, who was clearly working as a journalist at the time he was detained.”

According to the US military, more than 1,200 insurgents and at least 39 U.S. troops have been killed since the U.S. military began its offensive in Fallujah over a week ago.