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Seriously injured Iraqi journalist to receive treatment in US

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 7 October 2008 CPJ press release:

An Iraqi journalist defies death, finds hope in U.S.

New York, October 7, 2008 - Iraqi cameraman Jehad Ali survived a 2005 assassination attempt, but his right leg was shattered and his career threatened. Since then, colleagues have raised money for medical care, surgeons in California have offered to reconstruct the limb, and, now, Ali has cleared another big hurdle: He's gained permission to enter the United States.

In a new report, "A California Dream", Robert Mahoney charts the years-long effort led by CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others to bring Ali to the United States. He also recounts the significant obstacles that Iraqi journalists have faced in seeking permission to come to the United States.

"Ali is exceptional because of the high-profile media backing his case has attracted," writes Mahoney, CPJ's deputy director. "But in one way, he is typical of the many reporters, camera operators, fixers, interpreters, and drivers who have risked their lives by working for foreign or Western-financed news organizations and now want safe passage out of Iraq."

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, more than 160 Iraqi journalists and media support workers have been killed in direct relation to their work. They represent the vast majority of work-related fatalities in Iraq.

Ali, a cameraman for Al-Iraqiya, a station established with U.S. aid, was granted humanitarian parole to enter the United States this fall. The application process, while taking many months, was still far faster than what has faced Iraqi refugees in the past. Until 2007, the annual number of Iraqis resettled in the United States never exceeded 500 because of high security clearances set by Washington. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, backed by CPJ, and signed by President George W. Bush in January expands and speeds the process.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

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