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Journalist illegally detained, while another is attacked

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 22 January 2012 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the illegal detention of Iraqi journalist Aly Alfayad, reporter for Al-Zaman newspaper and editor of Al-Solta Al-Khamsa [The 5th Authority] News Agency, five days ago by the facilities protection police.

The guards at Waset governorate in the center of Iraq detained Alfayad for publishing news about the “termination of 36 policemen in Waset governorate,” information that was broadcast by multiple news agencies and two TV news channels, Al-Iraqya Sat and AlBoghdadya. As of the writing of this press release, he remains detained.

Iraqi journalists and media are suffering due to restraints placed on their work, a clampdown by authorities, as well as being targeted and physically assaulted. On 20 January, police guards of the Canadian Public Hospital in the center of the Iraqi capital Baghdad assaulted freelance journalist Safaa Wahem, beating and dragging him, while he attempted to prepare an investigative story on corruption within the hospital - leading patients to bribe officials in order to register.

“The illegal detention of Alfayad by the hospital guards is not only not within their authority and therefore a violation of the rule of law, it is also a blatant violation of freedom of the media and press. It is part of an ongoing campaign aimed at gagging journalists and preventing them from conveying the truth to the public,” stated ANHRI.

“Journalists in Iraq have found themselves trapped between their desire to report on corruption within the state institutions and the ongoing repression they face from authorities. as well as armed groups that continue to target them.” ANHRI calls upon the Iraqi authorities to remove all restraints on press freedom and freedom of expression and to allow for a space where everyone expresses their opinions and ideas freely, as long as it remains within the confines of the law.

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