Mourners surround a car carrying the coffin of Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 4, 2020. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Mourners surround a car carrying the coffin of Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 4, 2020. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

In wake of Soleimani’s killing, journalists at risk in Iraq

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

Following the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis on January 3, journalists reporting in Iraq face heightened risks. According to CPJ research, pro-Iran militias have previously targeted journalists for kidnapping. Journalists planning to cover events in Iraq can find safety advice in CPJ Emergencies’ latest advisory on reporting from the country.

This week also marked the anniversaries of two attacks against journalists. January 7 marked five years since the Charlie Hebdo attack, in which eight journalists and cartoonists were killed. January 8 was the 11-year anniversary of the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of The Sunday Leader weekly in Sri Lanka. He was featured last year in The Last Column, a book and digital campaign launched by CPJ.

Global press freedom updates:

  • Venezuelan photojournalist Jesús Medina released after 16 months in prison
  • Pakistani journalist sentenced to five years in prison under anti-terrorism laws
  • Burundi prosecutor seeks 15-year prison term for Iwacu journalists
  • Montenegro journalist Anđela Đikanović charged with incitement over retracted report
  • Thai court sentences journalist Suchanee Cloitre to two years in jail for defamation
  • Bangladesh blocks Sweden-based news website Netra News
  • Chadian journalist detained since December 26 over defamation complaint
  • In India, freelance journalist Santosh Yadav acquitted of charges of helping Maoist militants
  • Tanzania’s broadcasting regulator suspended Kwanza Online TV for six months and fined two other stations
  • For journalists with health issues from covering 9/11, support is available

The One Free Press Coalition is a group of over two dozen media outlets that work together to highlight some of the most pressing cases of journalists under threat around the world. CPJ and the International Women’s Media Foundation work closely with the coalition to identify cases each month. Of the 56 journalists featured on the list in 2019, at least ten are no longer behind bars, including Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar, and Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau in Nicaragua.

This month, the cases include imprisoned Egyptian journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, four journalists from the Burundi outlet Iwacu who are facing up to 15 years in prison, and Qazi Shibli, who has been imprisoned in Kashmir. Read more here about all of the journalists featured this month.

CPJ, the International Women’s Media Foundation, and Loyalty Bookstores will host a series of talks this year highlighting the work of female journalists around the world. On Wednesday, January 15, journalist Shilpa Jindia will moderate a discussion with journalist and author Katya Cengel on her book Chernobyl with Love and her experiences reporting in the former Soviet Union in the 1990’s.

The event will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at Loyalty Bookstores Petworth, in Washington, D.C. Learn more about this event and purchase tickets here.

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