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International Federation of Journalists calls for release of IRNA reporters in Baghdad

Brussels, Aug 14, IRNA -- The International Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) the world's biggest journalists` organisation, has issued a new call for the release of journalists held after a police raid on the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in Baghdad earlier this week.

"We are pleased that James Brandon has been promptly released," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, "but we still await news about the arrest and detention of colleagues working for the Iranian news agency."

Mostafa Darban, IRNA
reporter arrested in Iraq

British journalist James Brandon who was snatched from his hotel by gunmen in the southern city of Basra was released on Friday.

At least three reporters working for IRNA news agency were arrested by Baghdad police, earlier this week according to one of the agency's senior editors, said an IFJ press release.

"Iranian journalists have run into trouble with the authorities in Iraq before. Iraq's defence minister has recently upped anti-Iranian rhetoric, accusing Tehran of sending spies and arms across the border to foment unrest," it said.

IRNA says the agency lost contact with its Baghdad bureau on Monday afternoon amidst reports that a group of armed men had stormed their offices in Baghdad.

"We are concerned that there are political motives behind this incident," said White. "The Iraqi authorities must explain why these men were taken and unless there are good reasons, they must be released immediately."

Among those reportedly detained after the police raid on IRNA were the bureau chief Mostafa Darban. Others detained were Mohammad Khafaji and Mohsen Madani.

The IFJ says that with more than 40 media deaths since last year's invasion, Iraq is already the world's most dangerous place for journalists.

A few days ago the Federation protested over an official ban imposed on the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.

About 20 foreigners are currently being held and at least eight hostages have been executed. The IFJ is calling on all journalists in Iraq to tighten up their security.

The Brussels-based IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.

... Payvand News - 8/14/04 ... --

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