New York, December 2, 2021 — Iraqi authorities must immediately release Al-Ahd TV reporter Hamid Majed and allow journalists to work freely and without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On December 1, Colonel Tareq Imad, director of the Anbar Crime Directorate in the central Iraqi city of Habbaniyah, phoned Majed, a reporter for Iraqi broadcaster Al-Ahd TV, to discuss an “important topic” over coffee at the directorate, according to news reports and a statement by the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, which did not provide details of the topic.
Once at the directorate, police officers arrested Majed, according to news reports, the journalist’s employer in a post on Facebook, and the press freedom group’s statement. CPJ has been unable to determine if the journalist was charged.
“Luring a journalist to a police station to arrest him is not only shameful practice but an abuse of police power,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on Iraqi authorities to release Hamid Majed immediately and allow journalists to do their work freely and without fear of retaliation.”
Reda al-Akaili, director of public relations of Al-Ahd TV, was quoted by the Press Freedom Advocacy Association as saying that Majed’s arrest is related to his reporting on the deteriorating conditions and public services in Anbar province.
His reporting “has angered the relevant authorities and officials in Anbar province and prompted them to arrest Majed and prevent him from performing his duties,” Al-Akaili said.
News reports speculated that Majed’s post yesterday on Facebook, where he counts more than 20,000 followers, about the robbery at a money exchange shop in the city of Ramadi may be the reason for his arrest.
On November 30, Majed also posted commentary Facebook asking why forgers alleged to have defrauded the Martyrs Foundation, a government body responsible for compensating victims of violence, have not been caught. His post included a screen shot of a post by Lieutenant Colonel Naser al-Ghanem, former Anbar Operations Commander.
CPJ emailed Al-Ahd TV but did not receive a reply. The Anbar Police Directorate did not reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.