Media company chief slain in Iraq; three others killed

Editor’s Note: The original text of this alert has been altered to reflect the correct spelling of Raad Mutashar’s name.

New York, May 9, 2007—
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s murder of an Iraqi journalist, his driver, and two passengers, who were gunned down outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Gunmen riding in an Opel without a license plate intercepted a vehicle carrying Raad Mutashar, 43, owner and director of a media company, on a road southwest of Kirkuk at around 2 p.m., a company source told CPJ. The source said the gunmen shot at close range Al-Mutashar, driver Imad Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid, and passengers Nibras Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid and Aqil Abdul-Qadir. The Associated Press first reported today’s attack.

Mutashar’s company, Al-Raad, publishes a weekly newspaper Al-Iraq Ghadan, and a related institute operates a news agency and a media educational center. A CPJ source said Mutashar was a prominent writer, poet, and journalist who started the company four years ago.

“We are outraged by these murders and offer our condolences to the families,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Iraq’s media continues to be targeted and senselessly murdered.”

The CPJ source said Mutashar’s son was kidnapped more than a year ago but released after a ransom was paid. The kidnappers told Mutashar that his journalistic work had prompted the abduction, the source said.

Imad Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid and Nibras Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid were Mutashar’s brothers-in-law. Nibras Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid often accompanied Mutashar on work trips but was not an employee of Al-Raad. Aqil Abdul-Qadir worked at a hotel owned by Mutashar, the source told CPJ.

At least 102 journalists, including al-Mutashar, and 39 media support staffers, including Imad Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaid, have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making Iraq the deadliest conflict for the press in CPJ’s 26-year history.