TV presenter murdered, station attacked and threatened for its reporting

New York, March 9, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing of presenter Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi of the Iraqi television station Baghdad TV which has been threatened and shelled by insurgents.

Unidentified gunmen shot al-Khaldi, 35, as he was driving from Baghdad on Tuesday with three passengers to interview poets in the northern city of Mosul for his program, Baghdad TV deputy director Thaer Ahmad said. The assailants stopped the car and fired three bullets into al-Khaldi. One passenger was also killed and the other two passengers injured. Al-Khaldi presented an educational and cultural show focusing on Middle Eastern poetry.

“We are saddened by the killing of Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “He is the fifth journalist to be killed in Iraq this year, which shows the appalling danger journalists face daily when trying to work.”

On March 1, Baghdad TV came under artillery fire by insurgents, according to Ahmad. Four employees were injured by two shells which hit a parking area. The station has been receiving e-mail threats this year because of its criticism of insurgent attacks, Ahmad added.

Baghdad TV is owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group.
In the last year two correspondents for the station have been killed by U.S. forces’ fire.

At least 65 journalists and 23 media workers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for the media in recent history. The killings continue two recent trends in Iraq: the vast majority of those killed have been Iraqi citizens; and most cases have been targeted assassinations rather than crossfire.