New York, March 29, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the reported abduction of three Romanian journalists in Baghdad Monday night, bringing to at least 30 the number of reporters, camera operators and photographers kidnapped in Iraq in the past year.
Reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci for Bucharest-based Prima TV, and reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian for the daily Romania Libera were seized near their hotel at about 8:30 p.m., according to international press reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Petre Mihai Bacanu, managing editor of Romania Libera, told The Associated Press that the journalists went missing late Monday after conducting an interview with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. The journalists had been in Iraq on assignment for about five days. The AP reported that the abduction took place outside the hotel in the Jadriya neighborhood of Baghdad, which is outside the fortified Green Zone.
The journalists somehow contacted Prima TV staff by phone after being seized and, during the call, were overheard pleading for their lives with their kidnappers, according to press reports. Ion also sent a text message to Prima TV indicating that the journalists had been kidnapped.
Insurgents in Iraq began abducting people in large numbers in April 2004. Of the 30 journalists kidnapped since then, two were killed by their captors and 24 were released. Along with the three Romanian journalists, the French reporter Florence Aubenas of the newspaper Libération is still in captivity.