Najaf – al-Hayat
The Najaf Provincial Council decided to bring a case against a reporter from al-Hayat that (works) in the city, Fadil Rishad, after his refusal of the request by the council to give up information on the full names and addresses of those formerly in the Ba’ath party that had made statements to al-Hayat previously.
al-Hayat had published a report from Najaf in a number of its news outlets on the 23rd of this month titled, “Najaf’s Ba’athists fear the security apparatus and political militias.” It quoted unnamed former Ba’athists in regards to (their) security concerns, “Fear and panic have gripped Ba’athist families,” after threats that circulated from the local city government. Some of them mentioned that, “They have decided to flee the city after taking pledges from the security elements not to cooperate with armed elements.”
The Najaf (Provincial) Council issued had issued a report previously granting the Ba’athists a single day to vacate the province, following bombings that struck the city and left tens of people dead and injured.
After the report was distributed, the al-Hayat reporter was summoned to the headquarters of the (Najaf) Provincial Council where they requested that he divulge the complete information about the sources of his information and threatened to bring a case against him if he refused to disclose the sources.
The Press Freedoms Observer and the Association for the Defense of Press Freedoms announced their condemnation of the Najaf Provincial Council’s actions. The Press Freedoms Observer said in a report that, “(We) emphatically condemn what our colleague, Fadil Rishad, is having to deal with from the Najaf Provincial Council as well as its requests for (Fadil) to divulge his sources.” They added, “This is not a regional issue, and it goes against the freedom of expression that the constitution guarantees, as well as the democratic process in the country.”
Likewise, the Association for the Defense of Press Freedoms condemned the pressure that had been placed on the al-Hayat journalist in Najaf in order to compel him to divulge the names and addresses of his sources, and it believes that is a violation of the most basic necessities of a journalist’s work. The Association requested that, “The Najaf Provincial Council and it’s president, Shaykh Fayid al-Shamari, stop terrorizing journalists and raising cases against them using condemned criminal laws inherited from the previous regime that flies in the face of the constitution and international obligations to build a democracy and respect and strengthen freedom of the press.”
The organization mentioned that the Najaf Provincial Council had raised tens of cases in the past against international (media) organizations because of their use of quotes from members of the (Najaf) Provincial Council.