Iraq: Journalist gunned down at home

New York, December 18, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the murder over the weekend of an Iraqi journalist who reported for an online news site.

In the early morning of December 15, Ali Shafeya al-Moussawi, a correspondent for the video-based news Web site Alive in Baghdad, was found shot to death in his home in the Al-Habibiya neighborhood of Baghdad, the site reported. Al-Moussawi was shot 31 times, according to a morgue report, the site said.

CPJ is trying to determine whether al-Moussawi was killed for his work.

Alive in Baghdad reported that al-Moussawi’s body was found hours after Iraqi National Guard forces had raided the street where the reporter resides at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday and stayed until around 3 a.m. the following morning. The Web site said witnesses heard gunfire and that a relative of al-Moussawi’s was unable to reach him by phone during the raid.

Alive in Baghdad founder and director Brian Conley said the circumstances and motive for al-Moussawi’s murder remains unclear. He said Alive in Baghdad was looking into a threat al-Moussawi received the previous week. The reporter had been working on a report about an Iraqi militia group.

“Ali Shafeya al-Moussawi’s murder is deeply troubling, especially in light of reports that Iraqi forces were in the area at the time of his death,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on Iraqi authorities to provide answers and launch a thorough and timely investigation into this murder.”

At least 124 journalists, not including al-Moussawi, and 49 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.