The editor of the newspaper Al-Sabah had posted a message on Facebook two days ago expressing concern about the fate of Mazen Latif, a writer and owner of a publishing house, who was kidnapped in identical circumstances, by unidentified men on a Baghdad street, just over a month ago.
“The lack of any reaction and political will on the part of Iraq’s leaders encourages militias to keep kidnapping journalists and reinforces the feeling of impunity,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The Iraqi authorities must conduct an immediate investigation in order to find this journalist and bring those responsible for his abduction to justice.”
This is the third time that a journalist has been kidnapped since a wave of anti-government protests which began last October. The two previous victims were both released fairly quickly.
On 17 November, freelance photographer Zaid Al-Khafaji was released a few days after being kidnapped on his return from covering protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. Muhammad Al-Shamari, a member of the Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedoms (which is linked to the national journalists’ union), was kidnapped from his home one month before and was released the next day.
Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.