CPJ alarmed by disappearance of CBS News journalists in Basra   


New York, February 11, 2008—CBS News is reporting that two unidentified journalists working for the network are missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Their statement said that “all efforts are under way to find them.”

Until the network learns more details, the statement said, “CBS News requests that others do not speculate on the identities of those involved. CBS News has been in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected.” Many major media outlets have refrained from reporting the details of the case to ensure the safety of the journalists.

“We are deeply concerned for the safety of our colleagues, and hope they are located swiftly and safely,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists and the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history. Journalists face incalculable risks in order to bring us the news from the frontlines.”

Since 2004, three journalists—freelancers James Brandon and Steven Vincent and Fakher Haider of The New York Times—have been abducted in Basra. Brandon was released, but Vincent and Haidar were murdered. CPJ research shows that at least 51 journalists have been abducted since 2004; the majority was released, but 12 were killed. Of those abducted, 65 percent were foreigners and 76 percent worked for international media organizations, according to CPJ research.