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Government newspaper editor abducted

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern at the news that another Iraqi journalist, Filaih Wadi Mijthab, was kidnapped on 13 June 2007 in Baghdad. He is the 15th journalist currently held hostage in Iraq without any claim of responsibility or ransom demand being sent to relatives or colleagues.

"We would like to express our support for the family of Mijthab, the 79th journalist to be kidnapped since the start of the war," the press freedom organisation said. "Attacks on the press are, with few exceptions, left unpunished and are now taking place almost every day. If it were not for the courage of the journalists who continue to work, nothing would be said about Iraq, and this deadliest of wars would go unreported."

Until 2003, Mijthab was a reporter for the daily "Al-Tharwa" and belonged to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. After the US-led invasion and his newspaper's closure, he became the editor of the government daily "Al-Sabah", which is part of the US-funded Iraqi Media Network. In the space of a few years, he emerged as an important and influential figure in Iraqi journalism.

Several vehicles forced his car to stop when he was being driven with his son on 13 June in Al-Hadidiah, a district that is part of the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad. Gunmen took him away, but left his son and driver.

Journalists and media assistants, especially Iraqis, are often the targets of kidnapping, which has become commonplace in Iraq. A total of 79 media workers have been abducted since the start of the war in March 2003. Of these, 41 were eventually released, 23 were murdered and 15 are still being held.

An appeal for the release of the 16 journalists held hostage worldwide will be launched by Reporters Without Borders on the Champ de Mars in Paris on 20 June with the support of 100 news media outlets from all over the world.

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