New York, May 10, 2021 – Iraqi authorities should immediately and thoroughly investigate the shooting of journalist Ahmed Hassan, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Earlier today, an unidentified masked gunman shot Hassan, a reporter for the broadcaster Al-Forat TV, twice in the head in front of his home in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Diwaniyah, according to CCTV footage of the attack shared on social media, a report by Al-Forat TV, and statements by the Metro Center for Advocacy and Journalists’ Rights and the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, two local press freedom groups.
Hassan was immediately transferred by ambulance to the Neurosurgical Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, where he underwent brain surgery; he is in serious condition and is expected to remain in intensive care for at least two weeks, according to reports by Al-Forat TV, which is owned by the Shia cleric and politician Ammar al-Hakim.
“Today’s shooting of journalist Ahmed Hassan is a sad reminder of the risks that Iraqi journalists continue to face,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Iraqi authorities should do their utmost to find the perpetrators of this crime and hold them to account, and to ensure that all journalists in the country can work safely.”
Local authorities in Al-Diwaniyah have opened an investigation into the attack, according to news reports.
In the CCTV footage of the attack, a masked man carrying a handgun can be seen approaching Hassan’s unmarked car, firing at him, and fleeing the scene. According to those news reports, Hassan was returning home from Baghdad at the time of the attack, and the gunman was waiting for him at the scene.
Hassan covers the local news in Al-Diwaniyah and also covered the Iraqi Army’s efforts to retake Iraq from the Islamic State militant group between 2014 and 2018, according to his employer.
CPJ messaged the Al-Diwaniyah Police Directorate at its official Facebook account for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.