Iraqi radio journalist kidnapped by unknown gunmen

New York, February 18, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the fate of Iraqi reporter Hussam Daoud al-Eqabi, who was seized by unidentified armed men on Wednesday. Al-Eqbi is a political reporter for Al-Ahed, a radio station in Kirkuk affiliated with radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

According to Abed Abu Zahra, head of Al-Ahed, four unidentified gunmen abducted Hussam Dawood al-Eqabi, 22, in front of his home in the Naser neighborhood in central Kirkuk.

“We are alarmed by the abduction of Hussam Daoud al-Eqabi and fear for his safety,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on the Iraqi authorities to make every effort to ensure his release.”

Abu Zahra told CPJ that eyewitnesses said four armed men in a red car grabbed al-Eqabi and put him in the trunk. “The police are investigating the case but at the moment they do not have any information about the identity or the motive of the kidnappers,” he said.

The kidnappers let al-Eqabi call his brother, Salam al-Eqabi, on his cell phone an hour after he was abducted. “The call lasted only a few minutes, just barely enough time to tell us that he had been kidnapped,” al-Eqabi told CPJ. “We haven’t heard from him since nor do we know his whereabouts.”

Armed groups have kidnapped at least 57 journalists, including al-Eqabi, in Iraq since April 2004, CPJ research shows.