Iraqi sheikh says he is not behind threats to journalist

New York, May 23, 2013–A prominent Iraqi sheikh told CPJ Wednesday he has had nothing to do with threats against a journalist or the recent abduction of the reporter’s brother.

Armed men raided the home of journalist Azhar Shallal on May 14 and briefly abducted his brother, the reporter told CPJ for a May 21 news alert. Shallal, an Agence France-Presse reporter, had started his own Facebook page to document alleged corruption in Anbar province. Shallal told CPJ his brother said the gunmen took him to the house of Sheikh Majid Ali Suleiman, where he was told the journalist should stop covering corruption. Shallal said he was later given the same warning by an individual who claimed to be Suleiman’s son.

CPJ made repeated efforts to reach out to Suleiman earlier this week.

In a phone interview with CPJ on Wednesday, Suleiman said he never sent anyone to Shallal’s house and had never ordered the kidnapping of the reporter’s brother. He also said he had never threatened the journalist or his family and denied having a son.

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