Newsletter No 25 11 April 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News From the Region

In Iraq, CBS News cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis was released on 6 April by an Iraqi tribunal after being in prison for a year without any formal charge having made public until the trial.

Younis had been held by the US forces in Abu Ghraib prison since April 2005 without having been formally charged. He was arrested while filming clashes between Iraqi insurgents and the US Army in the northern city of Mosul. According to the CBS, US authorities have indicated that the journalist could have instigated a crowd before his arrest.

The court acquitted him by lack of evidence.

Also in Iraq, Al Safeer journalist Ali Abdullah Fayad was released by his abductors on 3 April, according to reports.

Fayad was kidnapped on 21 March near by the Baath Party Brigade, which demanded a 20 million Euro ransom and the release of three of its members held by the Iraqi authorities.

Al Safeer, a privately owned newspaper, had two of its journalists murdered in September 2005.

Two journalists are still held hostages in Iraq: Reim Zeid and Marwan Khazaal.

Still in Iraq, Austrian-born Kurdish writer Kamal Sayid Qadir, also known as Kamal Karim, was release on 3 April 2006. He had been arrested on 26 October 2005 for posting "defamatory" articles about the authorities in Kurdistan.

Qadir had been in Erbil prison since 26 October 2005, in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. He was sentenced on 19 December 2005, for "defamation of public institutions".

Qadir was arrested in October 2005 and sentenced to 30 years on 19 December. He appealed the verdict and was finally sentenced to 18 months of prison a week ago.

In Saudi Arabia, journalist Rabah Al Quwai was detained on 2 April after being summoned by security authorities. According to reports, prosecutors are investigating him for having “denigrated Islamic beliefs.”

Al-Quwai, who writes for the Saudi dailies Shams and Okaz and a number of websites, had written some articles criticizing the strict religious interpretation of conservative forces in Saudi Arabia and who have great influence in the country.

The journalist had reportedly received threats from suspected extremists in November 2005.

In Syria, writer and website editor Mohammed Ghanem was arrested in 31 March at his home in the northern city of Al-Raqqa by military intelligence officers.

According to reports, Ghanem was arrested for some articles he had published on the website. He is a known defender of Kurdish minorities in Syria. He was previously arrested for fifteen days on March 2004 for writing an article about the clashes between Kurds and security services in the north-east of Syria.

Meanwhile, there is no news about journalist Ali Abdallah and his relatives, detained on 23 March.