CPJ update, April 2006

CPJ Update
Committee to Protect Journalists
April 19, 2006

CPJ welcomes releases of three journalists in Iraq

In the face of mounting dangers to journalists in Iraq, CPJ welcomes several positive developments for the press this month; U.S. freelance reporter Jill Carroll was released unharmed from captivity on March 30 after being held for nearly three months, Kurdish writer Kamal Karim was pardoned on April 3 after receiving a 30-year sentence for defamation in December, and CBS cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein was freed on April 6 after being detained by U.S. forces for over a year without charge.

·        U.S. freelance reporter Jill Carroll

CPJ closely monitored the case during Jill Carroll’s ordeal after she was abducted at gunpoint in Baghdad on January 7. Her interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was shot and killed during the kidnapping. Carroll was one of the 39 journalists who have been abducted in Iraq since the beginning of the war, according to updated statistics released by CPJ on the three-year anniversary of the conflict. Two other reporters–Marwan Ghazal and Reem Zaeed of Iraqi Samaria TV–are still missing after having been kidnapped in Baghdad on February 1.

To read a statistical analysis of journalists in danger in Iraq , click here: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/Iraq/Iraq_danger.html

·        Kurdish writer Kamal Karim

CPJ was relieved by the Kurdish government’s decision to pardon writer Kamal Karim on April 3, but called his six-month detention an “outrage.” Karim was arrested last October in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil and convicted in December of defaming public institutions. He faced a 30-year prison term for defamation for criticizing regional President Masoud Barzani. His sentence was reduced to 18 months on March 27. Karim, an Austrian citizen, has safely returned to Austria , but another writer, Hawez Hawezi, a 31-year-old high school teacher who writes for the independent Kurdish weekly Hawlati near Arbil, now faces unspecified defamation charges for calling for new government leadership.

To read more about Karim’s case: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/iraq27mar06na.html

·        Iraqi CBS cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein

After months of intensive advocacy, CPJ welcomed the release on April 6 of CBS cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein who was held for more than a year by U.S. forces in Iraq without due process. Hussein was one of the seven cases documented by CPJ in 2005 in which U.S. forces detained Iraqi journalists for periods of many weeks or months without charge or due process.

The Army detained Hussein after he was wounded by U.S. forces’ fire as he filmed clashes in Mosul in northern Iraq on April 5, 2005. CBS News reported at the time that the U.S. military said footage in his camera led them to suspect Hussein had prior knowledge of attacks on coalition forces. He was freed a day after an Iraqi criminal court, citing a lack of evidence, acquitted him of collaborating with insurgents.

U.S. officials signaled a shift in policy last month, pledging to undertake prompt, high-level reviews whenever journalists are detained by troops in Iraq . Maj. Gen. John Gardner told Reuters that the military will review cases of detained journalists within 36 hours, and news organizations will be given the chance to vouch for their journalists.
“We are aware that journalists, by the nature of their duties, often will be at the scene of attacks when they occur,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told CPJ at the time.

To read more about Hussein, click here: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/iraq07apr06na.html

CPJ hosts Russian journalist Masha Lipman

As part of an ongoing series of luncheon discussions with international journalists, on March 24 CPJ hosted Masha Lipman, one of the world’s most prominent Kremlin watchers. Lipman reports on political developments, civil society, and press freedom in Russia , and presided over a well attended discussion “Russian Media: Controlled or Irrelevant. Over the past six years, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have expanded their control of the media through a politicized judiciary, hostile corporate takeovers, and aggressive harassment by security services. Impunity in the murders of journalists remains a major problem; since Putin came to power in 2000, a dozen journalists have been killed in contract-style slayings, none of which has been solved.

For information about upcoming luncheon events, contact CPJ Executive Assistant Maya Taal  at [email protected]

Upcoming special reports:

  • To mark the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day on May 3, CPJ will release a special report on the most censored countries in the world, and Executive Director Ann Cooper will participate in a panel discussion on press freedom at the United Nations.
  • An in-depth report on press freedom conditions in Saudi Arabia by Senior Middle East Program Coordinator Joel Campagna will be released soon. Campagna traveled to the capital Riyadh with Ann Cooper and CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger in February.
  • Africa program coordinator Julia Crawford analyzes in a forthcoming report the political turmoil in Ethiopia which has led to a media crackdown, the arrest of journalists, censorship and the closure of publications. Crawford traveled to Addis Ababa last month with Johannesburg-based journalist and CPJ board member Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Charles Onyango Obbo of Kenya ‘s Nation Media Group.