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Two journalists imprisoned in Iraq after being lured in by Ministry of Defence

The International Federation of Journalists has demanded the immediate release of two journalists imprisoned in Baghdad.

According to the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate (IJS), Mohamed Fouad Tawfik, a photographer at the Iraqi News Agency ANB, and his assistant Afdal Jouma, were arrested and imprisoned by forces from the Ministry of Defence after being summoned to its offices under false pretenses on 4 June.

“We call for the immediate release of these journalists who have been arrested and detained under false and illegal pretenses and have done nothing to warrant such an action by the authorities in Iraq,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “Their detention is a restriction of the freedom of journalism and media in Iraq and undermines the provisions of the rights of journalists law, which provides a safe environment for press and media work in Iraq.”

Media reports in Iraq say the Ministry summoned the two men to their offices because they claimed they wanted to thank them for returning a notebook that had been lost by Minister of Defence, Saadoun al-Dulaimi. But instead the men were arrested and over a week later they are still being held.

The Ministry of Defence has accused the journalists of stealing the notebook, which is believed to have contained sensitive information, from a political meeting that Minister al- Dulaimi was attending. They then passed the notebook to the editor of their media agency, who is alleged to have kept if for three days before returning it to Minister al-Dulaimi.

The IJS has denounced the treatment of the two journalists and ask for the Ministry to release them.

“The way the photographer and his assistant were arrested was scandalous,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. “We call for the authorities in Iraq to give us clear answers as to why the two men were imprisoned and release them with immediate effect.”

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