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JOURNALIST/MEDIA WORKER DEATH TOLL REACHES 200

An Iraqi translator for a United States' television network has been found dead in Iraq, bringing the number of journalists and media workers killed in the country since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 to 200, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) reports.

Anwar Abbas Lafta, an Iraqi translator and interpreter for CBS News, was found dead on 25 August in eastern Baghdad, five days after he was abducted.

He was kidnapped by a group of 10 gunmen who forced their way into his Baghdad home on 20 August, beat his brother and shot and wounded his sister, RSF says. Anwar Abbas was the only one that was apprehended. CBS News said his abductors contacted the family several times to demand a ransom. The police eventually found his body in the eastern Baghdad district of Sadr City.

According to RSF, 73 percent of journalists killed in Iraq were directly targeted - "much higher than in previous wars in which journalists were above all the victims of collateral damage and stray bullets," RSF says.

Eighty-eight per cent of journalists and media workers killed were Iraqis, often those who work for foreign news media.

Most of the 200 media fatalities took place in Baghdad (110 cases) or near the capital (34 cases), says RSF. The remaining cases were mostly centred in the north of the country, especially in Mosul and Kirkuk.

More journalists are also taken hostage in Iraq than anywhere else in the world, says RSF. A total of 84 journalists and media workers (64 per cent of them Iraqis) have been kidnapped there in the past four years. Only about half of them were freed. Fourteen are still being held by their abductors.

ARTICLE 19 says that the Iraqi government has not taken effective action to protect journalists and media professionals or their facilities, and worse still, US and Iraqi security forces themselves have frequently been the perpetrators of violence. Read about the nature of the threats and violence against the media, as well as the impact of the new constitution and legal framework, in ARTICLE 19's latest report detailing free speech developments in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.

Read ARTICLE 19's report here:
- English: http://tinyurl.com/2se5wt
- Arabic: http://tinyurl.com/2tabsu
Visit this link:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23481
(4 September 2007)

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