Newsletter No 13 10 January 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News from the Region

» In Iraq, American journalist Jill Carrol was kidnapped on 7 January and her translator killed.

Ms. Carroll, a freelance writer, was going to meet Sunni political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi when, according to the Iraqi police, she was kidnapped by gunmen in the district of Adel, in western Baghdad.

Carrol’s interpreter’s was killed and his body was found near the site of the abduction.

Jill Carroll is the 31st media worker to have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war. Five of the kidnap victims (four Iraqis and Enzo Baldoni of Italy) were killed by their abductors. The others were released safe and sound

» In Morocco, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) has condemned a "premeditated campaign against the independent press" in a communiqué issued on 30 December.

According to the AMDH, the last step in this campaign has been the announcement by the Ministry of Justice to the parliament of the creation of a body to monitor everything that is published and prosecution of any publication destabilizing Islamic or national institutions.

The AMDH says that judges are being used to silence journalists.

» Bassem El-Jamal, journalist at the Pan Arab TV station Al Arabiya, was stopped from entering the Palestinian Territories by the Israeli authorities in mid-December.

El-Jamal, who is a British national, had been stopped from entering the Palestinian Territories twice in April 2005 for "security reasons". According to reports, his "contacts with hostile groups" was the reason given by Israel on his most recent attempt. El-Jamal had formerly interviewed members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

According to Reporters Without Borders, "the ban is the latest in a series of press freedom violations by the Israeli army against the Arab media. While Israel respects freedom in its own territory, the same is not the case in the Palestinian territories." The organization added that it is vital for journalists to cover freely the Palestinian legislatives election to be hold on 25 January.

» In Sudan, Zuhair Al-Sarraj, columnist at Al-Sahafa newspaper, was reportedly jailed for two and a half days for writing that President Omar Al Bashir seems not to worry about the problem's of Sudan citizens.

According to the reports, Al-Sarraj received a phone call from the media and press department of the national security forces on the evening 30 December ordering him to report to a police station in Khartoum. After being interrogated there for an hour, he was transferred to police headquarters and questioned for another four hours.

He was then put in Kober prison and was not taken before the Khartoum prosecutor until noon 2 January, when Al-Sahafa editor Adil Albaz was also brought before the prosecutor. The two were then interrogated for five hours. The prosecutor finally freed them on bail after notifying them that they would be prosecuted for “insulting the president.”

Al-Sarraj wrote on 30 December that Sudanese citizens had addressed complaints to President Omar Al Bashir but it seemed as though “the person addressed is not alive,” according to the reports.

Journalists and others have formed a committee to support Al-Sarraj and Albaz. Its members include Ghazi Suleiman, a lawyer and parliamentary representative of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, a former rebel group. The committee’s secretariat consists of seven leading Khartoum-based journalists.

Sources for the alerts:
Arab Press Freedom Watch (AFPW), London
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Brussels, Belgium
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Canada
International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna, Austria
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), France