Call for release of Reuters photographer as arrests of journalists increase
Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediate release of photographer Ibrahim Jassam, of the British news agency Reuters, arrested on 1st September 2008 by a contingent of US and Iraqi forces in the Mahmudiyah district in the south of Baghdad.
Ibrahim Jassam was picked up from his home in the capital and soldiers took him to an unknown location after checking the ID of members of his family and seizing four cameras along with his phone and laptop computer.
His family still do not know why he was arrested. Jassam had worked for Reuters for four years and had received a number of anonymous death threats.
More than 20 journalists have been arrested in Iraq in similar circumstances since 1st January 2008, all of whom have been released after spending days or even months in custody without any charges being made against them.
One recent instance was the case of Ahmed Nuri, a cameraman working for Associated Press, who was freed on 23 August 2008, after being held for 80 days at the US military base Camp Cropper.
Photographer Bilal Hussein, who also works for Associated Press (AP) was released on 16 April 2008 after spending 735 day in detention.
“We have noticed an upsurge in the number of arrests of journalists by Iraqi security forces or members of the coalition,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “To date the number of arrests in 2008 has already passed the number last year. Simply possessing a camera or a film camera seems to be taken as evidence that some journalists are involved in terrorist networks. We are baffled by the lack of discrimination by the authorities”, it said.