Newsletter No 16 01 February 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News From the Region

In Iraq, journalist Mahmoud Zaal of Baghdad TV, was killed during clashes between US army and Sunni rebels in Ramadi on 24 January.

According to reports, Zaal was covering an insurgent attack on two buildings occupied by US forces when he was wounded and then killed in an US air strike. Baghdad TV is owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Suni political group.

Also in Iraq, ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and camera operator Doug Vogt were seriously injured in a roadside bombing on 29 January 2006.

At the time of the blast, they were traveling with an Iraqi Army unit in an Iraqi vehicle near Baghdad, the U.S. television network said in a statement. After the blast, the vehicle came under small arms fire.
Both men have head injuries and have been flown to an American military hospital in Germany after doctors described their injuries as very serious.

Continuing in Iraq, the Al-Jazeera satellite network aired a videotape on 30 January of the journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped on 7 January while her interpreter’s body was found near the site of the abduction.

The broadcast video did not have sound for the most part, but Carroll was said to appeal for the release of female Iraqi prisoners, Al-Jazeera reported. The tape is the second to be released by her captors. In a message accompanying the first tape, which was released on January 17, the kidnappers threatened to kill Carroll unless U.S. and Iraqi forces released all female Iraqi prisoners. Last week, U.S. forces released five of the 10 Iraqi women known to be in U.S. custody. U.S. officials denied that the release had anything to do with the captors' demands.

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.

In Morocco, the trial against the weekly Al Ayam was postponed on 23 January. Al Ayam’s director, Noor Eddin Miftah, and journalist Maryam Moukrim are accused of reporting false news and of publishing pictures of the royal family.

Also in Morocco, Anas Tadili, the editor of the weekly Akhbar al-Ousboua, who had been in prison since 29 September 2004 for libeling a government minister, was released from prison on 29 January.

The finance minister reportedly pressured the justice minister to have Tadili arrested because he believed he was the target of a report published on 9 April 2004 referring to a government’s minister’s presumed homosexuality.

According to the reports, Tadili’s lawyer said the public prosecutor had to threaten the director of Salé prison, near Rabat, with prosecution in order to get him to comply with the release order the prosecutor had issued. The prison director had apparently received conflicting ministerial instructions not to free Tadili.

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