Reuters freelancer arrested in Iraq

A freelance photographer working for Reuters in his home country of Iraq has been arrested and jailed by the US military.

Ibrahim Jassam, who has freelanced for the agency for the past two years, was seized on Monday and taken to an undisclosed location after troops raided his home.

Officials confiscated a laptop and four cameras, which Jassam probably used for his work of supplying Reuters with photographs and video footage on a freelance basis.

Speaking to the London-based agency, a US military spokesman declined to comment on any charges Jassam may be facing, saying only that he was a "security threat".

Although the official confirmed Jassam was in custody, his family say they have not been told why he was arrested and endorsed calls for his release. They did say he had received anonymous death threats.

“We are concerned to hear about Jassam's detention, and urge the US military to either charge or release him”, said Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger.

 “Any accusations against a journalist should be aired publicly and dealt with fairly and swiftly, with the journalist having the right to counsel and present a defense”.

 Yet, as the agency pointed out in its own editorial, more than 20 journalists have been arrested in Iraq in similar circumstances since 1st January 2008.

All of the journalists were released by the military after spending days or sometimes months in custody without any charges being brought in any court, Iraqi or US.

In most of the cases, including this latest one, the US military failed to meet its stated goal of reviewing detentions of journalists within 36 hours.

Iraqi press rights group the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory called last night on the military to reveal where Jassam is being held and to say why he was arrested.

The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders joined the call, and pointed out that the number of arrests in 2008 has already passed the number last year. The best way to decide on which of the Freelance Services to offer is to figure out exactly what you do best, what kind of people you deal with, what the price range is for the service, and where you would want to get your work done.

It said: “Simply possessing a camera or a film camera seems to be taken as evidence that some journalists are involved in terrorist networks. We are baffled by the lack of discrimination by the authorities.”


15th September 2008

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