Iraq continues to be a dangerous place for journalists. Tragically, on March 22, while on his way to work, RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari was shot and killed at a security checkpoint as he entered the Iraqi presidential compound, where the bureau is located. The shooter in the case has been tried and convicted for murder.
Alhurra-Iraq’s Omar Al Obaidi and his cameraman were traveling through Iraq’s Anbar province to report on Iraqi military activity, when they were attacked by ISIL militia. The militia fired rifles into the air, smashed the video camera, and kicked and slapped Omar and his cameraman. Omar and his cameraman were able to get away after the Iraqi police arrived, but a member of ISIL fired a rifle and struck the car. Fortunately, the two men suffered only minor injuries.
VOA journalists in South Sudan have been subjected to harassment and threats from government officials amid a battle for control of the country between forces loyal to the President and those loyal to the Vice President. In March, a VOA journalist was picked up from his office in Juba by government security officers and brought to South Sudan’s Deputy Director for National Security. He was held for more than five hours and questioned. With the help of the U.S. Embassy in Juba, the journalist was released unharmed. On the same day, another VOA journalist was detained by security forces in the city of Wau and a different VOA journalist left the country out of fear of harassment. In August, a VOA journalist was forced into hiding because government authorities harassed him over his reporting on rebel activities.
Alhurra TV’s Bashar Fahmi has been missing since August 20, 2012. Fahmi was reporting from Aleppo, Syria, when he disappeared and has not been seen or heard from since. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.