Dijlah TV: Unknown assailants set fire to Baghdad bureau

The satellite news channel Dijlah TV said in a report that unknown assailants set fire to its Baghdad bureau, located in the Al-Rusafa neighborhood, on the afternoon of January 2, 2018. No one was injured in the blaze, according to the report.

The fire, which allegedly started during the employees’ lunch break, destroyed all of the channel’s equipment and the bureau’s new building, which was scheduled to open on January 4, 2018, according to according to an employee quoted by the Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedoms (IOPF) and Dijlah TV.

Videos Dijlah TV posted on YouTube and Facebook show the firefighters’ efforts to put out the blaze on the building’s roof as well as the channel’s burned equipment, including screens and production gear, inside the new studios.

Police said they are still investigating the incident, according to the Dijlah TV news report.

In a statement released on January 3, Dijlah TV, which is sponsored by Iraqi MP Mohammed al-Karbouli and based in Amman, said the attack followed a series of threats resulting from the broadcaster’s reporting on alleged corruption in Iraq. Dijlah TV’s statement also attributed the attack to an alleged collusion of interests between “terrorists” and corrupt government officials displeased with the broadcaster’s reporting, but does not name any specific groups.

The attack occurred the same day Dijlah TV published two documents that allegedly show how Talal Khudair al-Zobaie, chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s Integrity Committee, sent a letter of thanks to four agriculture department employees in Baghdad’s Khadimiyya neighborhood for allegedly forging official documents for a number of prominent officials and personalities.

CPJ was unable to determine if the documents were released before or after the fire.

In late December 2017, Dijlah TV published two reports showing instances of alleged corruption in the Iraqi Customs Authority and the banking sector.

In May 2017, the Council of Al-Anbar Province ordered the closure of Dijlah TV’s Ramadi office after it aired a report about local government officials’ alleged involvement smuggling fuel and fighters to the Islamic State group, CPJ documented at the time.