Egyptian journalist Sobhy, also known as Jamal al-Masri, was kidnapped by Islamic State militants from his home in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2014, colleagues at Al-Mosuliya TV, told CPJ.
Sobhy was a presenter and broadcast reporter for the U.S. government-funded local channel, which was forced to close when Islamic State militants seized Mosul in June 2014. A former producer at Al-Mosuliya TV, who lives in exile in Irbil and who has not been named out of concerns for his safety, told CPJ that even though the channel’s U.S. funding ceased in 2009, a perception that its staff were agents of America stuck. The producer said that when Islamic State seized Mosul, militants smashed the channel’s technical equipment and seized some of its staff.
The Society for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iraq, a media monitoring group, told CPJ in an emailed statement that Sobhy had been killed, although it was unable to provide the date or further information. According to a colleague of Sobhy’s, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivities of the case, the presenter died while being tortured. He said he knew this from “sources inside the security services.”
In September 2015, Sobhy’s name appeared on a list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed, which militants posted in coroner’s offices and police stations in Mosul, several of his colleagues told CPJ.
CPJ has been unable to independently verify if Sobhy’s name appeared on the list and his family say his body was never returned.
Mohammed al-Bayati, who also worked for Al-Mosuliya TV, told CPJ that when he spoke to Sobhy’s family in August 2015 they told him they had never received a body and believe the journalist is alive. The Iraqi press freedom groups Nineveh Reporters Network and the Nineveh Media Foundation both describe Sobhy as being jailed, a term that includes those the two groups believe are held by Islamic State.