Iraq - CBS journalist and Iraqi interpreter kidnapped from Basra hotel

    MONTREAL, Feb. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is very
worried about the disappearance yesterday of a western journalist working for
the US television network CBS and his Iraqi interpreter in the city of Basra,
590 km south of the capital. According to the latest reports, they were
kidnapped by gunmen from a hotel in the centre of the city.
    At least 15 journalists, all Iraqi, are currently held hostage in Iraq,
which continues to be the world's most dangerous country for the media. 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.
    "The handover of authority in Basra to the Iraqi government in
mid-December has not improved security in the city," Reporters Without Borders
said. "The Iraqi authorities must assume their responsibilities and take
measures to reinforce the safety of the inhabitants. Yet again it is
journalists who are paying dearly for the chronic insecurity in one of the
country's biggest cities."
    The press freedom organisation added: "With one month to go to the fifth
anniversary of the start of the war, the number of journalists being targeted
is not falling. We appeal to those who kidnapped the CBS employees to free
them at once."
    The CBS journalist and his interpreter were reportedly kidnapped by
gunmen who entered the Hotel Quasr Al Sultan (Sultan's Palace) at dawn. CBS
asked the media not to speculate on the identifies of those abducted and said
it was doing everything possible to find them.
    The hotel owners, who witnessed the abduction, said they thought the
kidnappers were bandits after a ransom rather than militiamen.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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