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Al-Sumariya TV journalist arrested

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called for the release of Ahmed Mahmud Hassan, of al-Sumariya satellite television, who has been held since 30 March 2008. The Iraqi authorities have not given any reason for his arrest.

Mahmud Hassan was picked up in Mahmudiya, 30 km south of Baghdad, while he was covering clashes between Iraqi forces and rebel insurgents. He is thought to be detained in a military base. About a dozen journalists have been arrested across Iraq since the start of 2008.

"Arbitrary arrest has become commonplace in Iraq. The Iraqi authorities must stop this growing obstruction to the work of the media," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "There is no reason for the continued detention of Ahmed Mahmud Hassan who should be quickly released."

Elsewhere, insurgents linked to the Mahdi Army set fire to the home of Bashir Thaaban, of Iraqi public radio in Kut, 180 km south of Baghdad. The studios of al-Irakiya television, which is also part of the public Iraqi Media Network, were ransacked and torched in the southern city of Basra, 550 km from Baghdad.

A total of 210 journalists have been killed since the start of the war in Iraq in March 2003. Dozens of journalists have been kidnapped, 15 of whom are still missing.

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