CPJ mourns death of AP African correspondent Anthony Mitchell

New York, May 8, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists extends its condolences to the colleagues and family of respected Associated Press reporter Anthony Mitchell, who was killed in a weekend plane crash in Cameroon.

Mitchell, 39, a staff reporter with the AP’s Kenya bureau, was among 114 passengers killed when a Kenya Airways aircraft crashed early Saturday shortly after takeoff from the coastal city of Douala, Cameroon, according to news reports. He was returning to Nairobi after completing a weeklong assignment in the Central African Republic on international animal smuggling, AP reported.

“We mourn the tragic death of Anthony Mitchell and extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “His professionalism earned him the great respect of his colleagues, and with his death the international community loses an important witness to the crucial events of Africa.”

Mitchell, a native of Chertsey, England, was widely respected for his independent journalism. Last month, his in-depth investigation into rendition practices between Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia had forced U.S. and Ethiopian officials to acknowledge a secret program of detaining terrorism suspects.

Mitchell was AP’s Ethiopia correspondent until January 2006, when the Ethiopian government expelled him a day after he reported on clashes between police and protesters in the capital, Addis Ababa. Authorities accused him of “tarnishing the image of the nation,” but they did not disclose any supporting evidence for the accusation, according to CPJ research. His expulsion was seen as a major blow to the press corps.

Prior to joining the AP in 2001, Mitchell had reported for United Kingdom-based publications, including the Daily Express, The Times of London, the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Independent, along with the United Nations news agency IRIN, according to the AP. He is survived by a wife and two children.