Al-Aossi, editor-in-chief of the critical weekly Al-Shahid, was taken from his home in Baghdad by a “mixed force of police officers and soldiers,” his brother told local reporters. Local press freedom advocates and journalists said al-Aossi was being held at a facility administered by the Counter-Terrorism Force, a unit responsible for high-level security cases that reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Al-Aossi was detained six days after publishing an opinion piece that said al-Maliki was secretive in filling high-level government positions. The government would not disclose any information about al-Aossi, including his whereabouts and legal status. Al-Maliki did not respond to CPJ’s inquiries.
Al-Aossi had been targeted earlier in the year. In February, police searched his newspaper’s office and confiscated equipment, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a local press freedom group. The raid effectively closed Al-Shahid in the two weeks before the March parliamentary elections.