Iraq - British reporter employed by CBS is still held by kidnappers, but his Iraqi interpreter is freed



    MONTREAL, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders welcomes
yesterday's release of an Iraqi interpreter employed by the US TV network CBS
who was kidnapped two days earlier in Basra, 590 km south of Baghdad. Several
Iraqi sources have said his abductors may soon also release the British
journalist they kidnapped at the same time.
    "We must remain on alert as long as the British reporter employed by CBS
has not been released as well," the press freedom organisation said. "We hope
that intercession by members of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's movement will
quickly bear fruit and the journalist will be safely reunited with his
family."
    Walid Al-Khuzaiy, a member of the Moqtada Sadr movement in Basra, told
Reporters Without Borders that the British journalist, who has not been
identified by CBS, would be released soon, as his Iraqi interpreter was
yesterday. The movement, which is very influential in southern Iraq, is in
contact with the kidnappers and has been trying to convince them to free both
hostages.
    "We must protect journalists because they are key witnesses of what is
happening in the country," Khuzaiy told Reporters Without Borders. "The armed
groups responsible for kidnapping journalists are mainly doing it for money,
even if some of them try to justify their actions by giving political or
religious reasons."
    Last year, 25 journalists and media assistants were kidnapped in Iraq. A
total of 208 have been killed in connection with their work since the start of
the US-led invasion in 2003.
    James Brandon, a reporter for the London-based Sunday Telegraph
newspaper, was released in August 2004 as a result of the intervention of
Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi, a close associate of Moqtada Sadr.
    In a separate development, the bullet-riddled body of freelance
journalist Haidar Mijwit Hamdan, 27, was found in central Baghdad on
12 February. He had been missing since leaving the offices of the Association
of Young Iraqi Journalists two days earlier.

    Click here (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25432) to see the
chapter on Iraq in the Reporters Without Borders annual report on press
freedom worldwide that was released yesterday.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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