Iraqi journalist found dead in Baghdad

New York, October 29, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Sunday’s murder in Baghdad of Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, an editor for the fledgling weekly Baghdad al-Youm.

Al-Hiti, 27, was last seen leaving his home in Baghdad’s western neighborhood of Al-Jamia to go to the paper’s offices around mid-day Sunday, a source at the paper told CPJ. Iraqi security forces found the journalist’s body later that afternoon in Baghdad’s northeastern Ur neighborhood and transported it to Baghdad’s Al-Tib al-Adli Hospital morgue, he said.

A local journalist told CPJ that Ur neighborhood is adjacent to Baghdad’s Sadr City, controlled by the Mahdi Army, led by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

“We condemn the killing of Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti and offer his family and colleagues our deepest condolences,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Journalists continue to be killed in Iraq at an alarming rate, underscoring the risks of practicing what has become one of the deadliest professions in the country.”

The CPJ source said that he was not aware of any prior death threats against the journalist. Baghdad al-Youm has been publishing for only three weeks, he said.
In all, at least 122 journalists, including al-Hiti, and 41 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in CPJ’s 26-year history. About 85 percent of media deaths have been Iraqis.