Dubai-based journalist harassed, detained

New York, June 17, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the harassment and brief detention of Bassma al-Jandaly, a reporter with the Dubai-based, English-language daily Gulf News.

Immigration officers detained al-Jandaly at Dubai’s international airport as she prepared to board a flight for Athens, Greece, with other journalists on Wednesday, the journalist told CPJ. Al-Jandaly said she was taken to the airport’s Criminal Investigation Department, where police said her name had been placed on a travel ban list because she was wanted by Sharjah police. Sharjah is Dubai’s neighboring emirate.

Al-Jandaly told CPJ that her problems with authorities began after a February 25 article in which she reported that a Sharjah woman was injured by a knife-wielding man who had apparently attacked other women. Al-Jandaly said she began to receive harassing phone calls from Sharjah police, who said she was wanted for questioning. Al-Jandaly said that Sharjah police told her that her story had interfered with their investigation into the attacks.

Eventually, police told Gulf News that an arrest warrant had been issued for al-Jandaly and Duraid al-Baik, the newspaper’s local news editor. Al-Jandaly said that after receiving conflicting information from authorities about whether the two were in fact being charged, the paper’s editors hired a lawyer to handle the case.

Al-Jandaly was released from airport custody after a few hours following the personal intervention of Interior Minister Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“We’re relieved Bassma al-Jandaly was released, but we deplore the detention of a journalist who was simply doing her job in reporting a matter of public interest,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said.