Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns an armed raid this morning on the Baghdad headquarters of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), its partner organization in Iraq, in which all of the JFO’s computers and archives were stolen
“A dozen gunmen belonging to private security forces burst into our office near Al-Fardous Square in central Baghdad this morning at the time of Fajr prayer (6:30 a.m.),” JFO director Ziyad Al-Ajili said. “They broke down doors and took all the equipment – four laptops, three hard disks, two cameras, two video cameras, walkie-talkies and 10 bulletproof jackets marked Press.”
He added: “They also took all of the JFO’s archives. All of our work since 2004 has disappeared. And before leaving, they vandalized the entire office. The government is behind this attack. The JFO is fighting for media freedom to become a reality in Iraq and, as such, clearly poses a threat to the authorities.”
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said: “The aim of this criminal raid was to silence an NGO that has been fighting for years for the right of Iraqi journalists to work freely and independently. It has not hesitated to condemn the abuses of the security forces and has often reminded the authorities of their responsibilities.
“We call for an independent investigation into this attack so that those behind it can be arrested and brought to justice. Impunity must no longer be the rule in Iraq, which is a country that aspires to be a democracy.”
This morning’s raid came 48 hours before Iraqi journalists are due to hold a big demonstration to press the authorities to fulfil their constitutional obligations to respect free speech and media freedom.
Since its creation in 2004, the JFO has played a key role in defending freedom of expression in Iraq.