Newsletter No 18 14 February 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News From the Region

Editors in other countries in the region also faced problems for re-publishing the controversial cartoons depicting Mohammed that a Danish paper first published on September 2005.

In Algeria, two weeklies were reportedly closed and their editors arrested for printing the drawings on February 2. Kamel Bousaad, editor of weekly Errissala, and Berkane Bouderbala, editor of Essafir, were detained last week.

In Yemen, Mohammed Al-Asadi, Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Observer, has been detained by the office of the print and media prosecutor in Sana'a, according to the newspaper. Al Asadi was charged with printing materials offending the Prophet.

According to reports, Abdulkarim Sabra, Editor-in-Chief of Al Hurriya weekly, and Yehiya al-Abed, a journalist for the paper, were detained. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Kamal al-Aalafi, editor-in-chief of the Arabic-language Al Rai Al Aam.

The Ministry of Information has revoked the publishing license of all three papers. Journalists face up to one year of prison.

In Iraq, kidnappers of American reporter Jill Carroll since 7 January have threatened to kill her if their demands are not fulfilled before 26 February, Kuwaiti TV station Al Rai said on 9 February.

A previous ultimatum had been made by kidnapers on 17 January demanding that the United States release all female Iraqi prisoners.

Carrol, a freelance reporter, was abducted in Baghdad by gunmen when she was going to meet a Sunni political leader. Carroll’s interpreter’s was killed and his body was found near the site of the abduction.

In Morocco, the weekly TelQuel was ordered to pay 500,000 dirhams (US 60,000) in damages for a libel case, a Casablanca court ruled on appeal on 8 February.

An earlier court decision said that the weekly should pay 900,0000 dirhams (US 107,000) for damages after publishing a false report in May concerning allegations against the director of a Moroccan NGO. TelQuel said it will appeal to a higher court.

TelQuel retracted the story, as did three other publications that reported the issue, after the information turned out to be false. The three other newspapers got off with minor fines. TelQuel was condemned to pay 800,000 dirhams in December 2005 for a separate libel case.

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