Newsletter No 24 04 April 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News From the Region

In Algeria, Al Khabar journalist Mourad M’hamed was detained on 30 March by security forces and reportedly intimidated to make him reveal his sources. According to the newspaper, M’hammed has been put under judicial control.

He had written a report about pamphlets distributed last week by a fundamentalist group.

In Comoros, Aboubacar Mchangana, editor of the private weekly L’Archipiel, was arrested on 25 May for 54 hours for publishing two articles where he reported dissatisfaction within the army.

In Iraq, journalist Jill Carroll was released on 30 March after being kidnapped for nearly three months. She was reported in good health

She had been abducted on 7 January in Baghdad. During the kidnapping her driver was shot dead.

Three Iraqi journalists are still missing after having been kidnapped: Marwan Khazaal and Rim Zeid of Al Sumariya TV and Ali Abdullah Fayad, journalist of Al Safeer newspaper.

According to international press freedom organizations, 39 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of the war in 2003.

In Syria, journalist Ali Abdallah and his son Mohammad were arrested on 23 March at their home without any explanation given, according to reports. Other reports say his son Omar and his nephew were also arrested.

Abdallah had already spent six months in prison between May and November 2005 for inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to participate in a debate on democratic change in Syria.

Abdallah, who is a member of the Atassi Forum –the only political forum tolerated in the country—, writes for Lebanese An-Nahar newspaper and London-based Al Hayat and Al Quds Al Arabi among others.

In Tunisia, writer and human rights activist Mohammed Abbou, who went on hunger strike on March 11 to protest his conditions of imprisonment, is reportedly being mistreated and harassed in jail.

According to the reports, he told his wife during a short visit that he was seriously ill and had not received the proper medical care. He is also forced to share his cell with four criminal thugs who he believes to have been instructed to harass him continuously.

Abbou was arrested in March 2005 and sentenced to three years and a half of jail. He was convicted of “defaming the judicial process” and “disturbing public order” for an article in internet where he compared Tunisia’s prisons with Abu Ghraib.

In Yemen, the case against Al Rai Al Aam newspaper for publishing the cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed was adjourned to 10 April.

Two other publications, the weeklies Yemen Observer and Al Hurriya are suspended and face charges for the same reason

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