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Two TV stations closed for showing Iraqis protesting against death sentence for Saddam

Statement, Reporters Without Borders

6 November 2006

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Iraqi government’s decision yesterday to close down two privately-owned TV stations for "inciting violence and murder" by screening footage of protests against former President Saddam Hussein’s death sentence. The main daily newspapers have also been suspended for three days beginning yesterday under a curfew decreed prior to the verdict.

"As well as the growing violence against journalists in the field, press freedom violations are also on the increase," Reporters Without Borders said. "We fear that the Iraqi authorities are exploiting the public’s concern about the bombings and sectarian violence in order to restrict press freedom more and more. Both Iraqi and foreign journalists should be able to freely report the Iraqi people’s reactions."

The interior ministry yesterday ordered the closure of the Al-Zaura and Salah-Eddin TV stations for broadcasting images of demonstrators brandishing pictures of Saddam and protesting against the court’s verdict. They had incited sectarian violence, the ministry claimed, without specifying when they would be allowed back on the air.

Reporters Without Borders learned that around 50 policemen also overran the Baghdad studios of the privately-owned Iraqi TV station Al Sharkiya and threatened to close it down if it broadcast programmes about Saddam’s trial.

Ahmed Al Rashid, one of Al Sharkiya’s journalists, was killed in his car two days before, on 3 November, as he was leaving the station.

Reporters Without Borders also learned that two Iraqi journalists were attacked by policemen last month in the city of Najaf. Amir Al-Akaishi, a correspondent of the newspaper Al-Mada, was attacked for writing about the local population’s difficulties. Saadun Al-Jabairi of the satellite TV station Al-Nahrain was prevented from filming religious festivities marking the death of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib.


:: Article nr. 28053 sent on 07-nov-2006 19:20 ECT

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