Newsletter No 31 11 July 2006
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News From the Region

» In Algeria, journalists benefited from a presidential pardon in the light of Algeria’s Independence Day, 5 July. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had already issued an amnesty for journalists convicted of defamation on 3 May. This time, however, the pardon has affected journalists who did not benefit from the 3 May amnesty since their cases were still in court or pending appeal. Altogether, a court treated 67 cases and dismissed charges for all of them.

» In Egypt, Ibrahim Essa, editor of the weekly Al Dustour, and Sahar Zaki, a reporter for the newspaper, were sentenced to one year of prison on 26 June for insulting President Mubarak. The sentence comes following a 5 April 2005 article that reported the lawsuit filed by an Egyptian lawyer against President Hosni Mubarak and his wife for corruption. The lawyer was also convicted and received the same sentence. Essa and Zaki are currently free on a bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds pending appeal.

» In Iraq, journalist Alaa Hassan was killed on his way to work in Baghdad on 4 July. Hassan, who was a contributor for the International Press Service (IPS), was not the victim of a targeted attack, but was at the wrong place in the wrong moment, IPS said.

On 20 June, the body of freelance cameraman Osama Qader was found in Baghdad. Qader, who worked for the US TV station Fox News, had been abducted four days earlier by a group of unidentified men.

» In Lebanon, an article was torn out from 280 copies of the French weekly Le Courrier International upon its arrival in the country on 26 June. The article, about the Prophet Mohammed, was censored because it “offended the dignity of Islam and was likely to provoke religious tensions between Muslims,” the Lebanese Ministry of Interior said.

» In Yemen, Abed Al Essely, Art Director of the Al Nahar newspaper, was shot to death on 2 July next to his home in Sana’a. According to reports, the assassination could be related to articles published in the newspaper on officials impeding an irrigation plan.

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