CPJ mourns death of New York Times reporter in Baghdad

New York, July 13, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by the killing today of a New York Times journalist in Baghdad. Khalid W. Hassan, 23, a reporter and interpreter, was shot and killed in the south central Seiydia district, the newspaper reported.

Hassan was killed while driving to work, the Times reported. He had called the bureau to say that he was taking an alternative route because his usual way was blocked by a security checkpoint, the newspaper said. The Times reported that the journalist called his mother a half hour later to say, “I’ve been shot.” The family notified the newspaper that Hassan later died.

An Iraqi of Palestinian descent, Hassan had worked for the Times Baghdad bureau since fall 2003, the newspaper said. He is survived by his mother and four sisters. He is the second New York Times employee killed on assignment in Iraq, CPJ research shows. Times reporter Fakher Haider, 38, was killed in Basra in September 2005.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Khalid Hassan and send our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “His death is even more difficult to bear, coming as it does on the heels of the loss of two of our colleagues from Reuters, who were killed on Thursday by U.S. forces’ fire in Baghdad.

“There is no safe way to report on the streets of Baghdad.” Simon added. “The fact that Khalid Hassan was shot on his way to work is a reminder that even the simplest, most routine functions of daily life can be deadly in an environment of rampant violence.”

In all, at least 110 journalists and 40 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.

“Iraqi journalists are eyes and ears for the world; they have shown extraordinary courage and commitment in revealing the reality of life in Iraq. Too often they have paid with their lives,” said Simon. “As we mourn the loss of the Khalid Hassan, we should take a moment to recognize and honor the Iraqi journalists who put their lives on the line every day to report for international and local news organizations. They provide a service to the world, and all of us are deeply in their debt.”