Al Arabiya elated at the release of its reporter, laments state of press freedoms in Iraq
Al Arabiya News Channel announced today that it is elated at the news that its reporter in Baghdad was released from US custody. However, the Dubai based 24-hour-a-day news provider expressed concern at the time taken to release an accredited journalist, as well as the state of press freedoms and safety of members of the media corps in Iraq, according to Jihad Ballout, Director of Corporate Communications at Al Arabiya.
Majid Hameed was released following four months of concerted campaigning by Al Arabiya. The news of his release coincided with a planned visit by US Brigadier General Mark T. Kimmitt to Al Arabiya’s studios in Dubai.
Upon his arrival, Kimmitt was met with a demonstration inside the MBC Media Group which was held by a large group of Dubai-based journalists expressing concern over the state of press freedom and the appalling record of violations committed against journalists in Iraq.
Jawad Kathem - the Al Arabiya reporter who escaped near death as a result of being shot in the course of duty on June 18, 2005 – delivered a petition to Kimmitt denouncing the prolonged detention of Majid Hameed without charge. Colleagues also called for active US involvement to enhance the safety and security of journalists and to uphold press freedoms in Iraq. Kathem, who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair as a result of the attack, had the opportunity to voice concerns shared by the attending journalists.
Kimmit responded to questions pertaining to the prolonged detention of Hameed. Throughout his detention, Al Arabiya maintained constant pressure, reminding relevant authorities in Iraq of their obligation to adhere to international conventions protecting the rights of journalists. Majid Hameed was denied all access to legal representation, his family and colleagues.
Al Arabiya News Channel reasserts its commitment to maintaining a safe, secure and conducive working environment for its reporters, camera people and stringers, and to upholding and defending freedom of the press.
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