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MediaWatch:Casualties
MEDIA WAR
JFO Decries Warrants for Four Journalists
Editors Reportedly Under Fire for Criticizing Nassiriya Police Forces
08/03/2007 4:38 PM ET
Baghdad, Aug 3, (VOI)- The Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO) said on Friday that an Iraqi court in the southern city of Nassiriyah issued an arrest warrant against four local journalists, according to a lawsuit submitted by the al-Nassiriyah police department.

"The al-Nassiriyah court of appeal issued an arrest warrant against four journalists, working in Thi Qar province, according to a lawsuit submitted against them by the police department," the JFO said in a statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

"The journalists are: Jawad Kadhem Ismail, Ibrahim Abdul Hassan, Adnan al-Fadhli and Latif Ghejeri and all of them are editors working for "summareon.net" website, specialized in the city's news," the statement added.

"The complaint against the journalists has the signature of the chief of the criminal investigation department in Thi Qar," it noted.

The statement said "the problem flared up as "summereon.net" published a complaint presented by a number of local residents of al-Bathaa district in northeastern Nassiriyah, in which they urged the Chief of police General Abdul Hussein al-Safi to be firm in dealing with security issues in the province, making some notes criticizing the police performance."

"This is not the first time we face similar lawsuits, but it is the first time to treat us like criminals and to refer our cases to the criminal investigations department, specialized in dealing with criminals and terrorists' cases," the statement said quoting one of the four journalists, Ibrahim Abdul Hassan, who is working also for (Tariq al-Shaab newspaper).

"Police in the city of Nassiriyah is trying now to arrest the four journalists," the JFO, a press freedom and safety watchdog organization in Iraq, noted.

The statement quoted its legal adviser as saying that "legal texts and orders issued by the coalition authority, regarding the trial of journalists 2003, prevented suing journalists on publishing crimes without the agreement of the head of the coalition authority, according to the order number (7)."

The adviser also highlighted the order number (100) which transferred the coalition authority's all powers to the premier, which means "no trial for any journalist without a green light from the prime minister," according to the adviser.

The lawsuit brings to 21 the numbers of lawsuits against a number of journalists by government and security officials, five of them have been closed so far.

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) is a non-governmental organization, based in Baghdad. It monitors and defends journalists and the freedoms of the press.

Thi-Qar is located in southern Iraq. It is a Shiite province. Its capital city is Nassiriyah, 380 km south of Baghdad. It was the second Iraqi province where security responsibilities were transferred from the Multi-National Forces to the Iraqis.
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