CPJ condemns murder of APTN cameraman

New York, December 12, 2006— The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder today of an Associated Press Television News (APTN) cameraman in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, was gunned down by insurgents while filming clashes between Iraqi police and insurgents in the city’s al-Karama neighborhood, The Associated Press reported.

Police Brig. Abdul-Karim Ahmed Khalaf told the AP that Lutfallah was having his car repaired in an industrial area when the clashes erupted. Khalaf said that insurgents spotted Lutfallah filming, approached him and then fatally shot him, according to the AP. Lutfallah had not reported any prior threats against him, the news agency said.

“This senseless murder once again demonstrates the ever present dangers facing news professionals in Iraq,” said CPJ Middle East Program Coordinator Joel Campagna. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Aswan Lutfallah’s family, friends, and colleagues. Like so many other journalists, he was targeted and killed simply for trying to provide the world with a glimpse of daily reality in Iraq.”

“Iraqi authorities must do everything in their power to apprehend those responsible for the growing number deadly attacks on the press and stop the cycle of impunity,” Campagna said.

Lutfallah began his journalism career at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan–backed Kirkuk TV. He then worked for several other local television channels before joining AP Television News as a cameraman in 2005.

Lutfallah is the second APTN cameraman killed in Mosul. On April 23, 2005, cameraman Saleh Ibrahim was killed by gunfire near the city’s al-Yarmouk Circle, the scene of an earlier explosion that he and his brother-in-law, AP photographer Mohamed Ibrahim, had gone to cover. The AP said the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

At least 90 journalists and 37 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making Iraq the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history. Insurgents are responsible for the bulk of media deaths. Over 80 percent of all media deaths have been Iraqis working for local and international news outlets. Murder is the leading cause of death. After Baghdad, Nineveh province, in which Mosul lies, is the second most dangerous locale for journalists. At least 16 journalists and media support staffers have been killed there since 2003. For more details, see: