Journalist held without charge for 3 weeks by Iraqi forces

New York, October 11, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists today demanded that Iraqi authorities release Al-Hayat correspondent Kalshan al-Bayati, who was detained in Tikrit three weeks ago.

Al-Bayati has been held without charge since she went to the security forces headquarters in Tikrit on September 18 to retrieve a personal computer confiscated during a raid on her home, according to CPJ sources.

“It is outrageous that Iraqi forces feel free to lock up a journalist without explanation or due process for three weeks,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “The authorities in Tikrit must release Kalshan al-Bayati immediately and cease harassing her.”

Al-Bayati, an Iraqi correspondent for the London-based, Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat, is being held in a women’s prison in Tikrit, 112 miles (180 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

A sister said Al-Bayati was working on an article for the Saudi-owned newspaper about insurgents in Saleheddin province. Al-Bayati’s prior reporting had been critical of security forces in Tikrit, hometown of ousted President Saddam Hussein.

Al-Bayati was jailed for three days in early September before being released by local authorities and ordered to stay at home, according to news reports and CPJ sources. Iraqi forces raided al-Bayati’s house in the al-Zuhour neighborhood of Tikrit early on September 11, arresting her and seizing her car, personal computer, notes, and articles, those sources said. Her brother Najad was also arrested and released the following day.

Al-Hayat quoted al-Bayati at the time as saying that security forces had investigated her for possible ties to insurgents but found no link.