Reporter abducted, slain in northern Iraq

New York, May 6, 2010A reporter for independent news outlets was found shot to death this morning in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after being abducted Wednesday in Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, according to news reports. Authorities in both cities must conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of Sardasht Osman and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Unidentified gunmen approached Osman on the campus of the University of Salahadin in Arbil, where he was a final-year English student, beat him and dragged him into a white passenger car, said Rahman Gharib, a representative of the Metro Center, a local press freedom group. Police in nearby Mosul found his body with his university ID shortly after midnight today, Gharib added.

“We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Sardasht Osman and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities must conduct a thorough investigation into the slaying and make a commitment to fight impunity in journalist murders.”

Osman, 23, was a reporter for Ashtiname and a regular contributor to independent news Web sites Sbei, Awene, Hawlati, and Lvinpress.

Osman’s brother, Bashdar, told CPJ that he was convinced that Sardasht was killed because of a critical article he wrote in the independent daily Ashtinam in April about a high-ranking Kurdistan Regional Government official. “In the last few months my brother received a number of phone threats, demanding that he stop meddling in government affairs,” he added.

In 2008, Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for the Sulaymaniyah-based Livin magazine who exposed public malfeasance, was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his home in Kirkuk. He had earlier received threatening messages related to his critical articles about local authorities.