On the international front this week: An Iraqi television anchor was shot and killed; the Pentagon cleared itself in the slaying of a Reuters journalist in a Baghdad gun battle; and the Committee to Protect Journalists says the average rate of exiled reporters has doubled since 2001.
Muhieddin Abdul-Hamid, 50, a state TV anchor in Mosul, was heading to work Tuesday when a car pulled up near his home and gunmen stepped out, opening fire. According to news reports, his safety had been threatened repeatedly before.
Iraqiya station officials called Abdul-Hamid a martyr, according to The Associated Press, and said the shooting was a "cowardly criminal act targeting freedom of speech."
Further to the south in Baghdad, Reuters journalist Waleed Khaled died in August 2005 when he and a cameraman, while covering the aftermath of an attack on Iraqi police, came under U.S. fire. In a report released Monday, the Pentagon’s inspector general criticized the Army’s initial investigation into the shooting, but cleared the military of wrongdoing.
U.S. troops shot at the reporters’ car after mistaking a camera sticking out of a window for a weapon. The cameraman, Haider Kadhem, was wounded.
The Pentagon report cites Reuters for not requiring its reporters to identify themselves by marking "Press" on their cars. The news agency said it was disappointed that the shooting was deemed justified.
Finally, CPJ’s latest survey of exiled journalists worldwide found that more are seeking shelter in the United States than any other country. More than 80 reporters fled their home countries in the past year — most often Iraqis and Somalis — by turn escaping assault, death threats, police surveillance and periodic detentions.
CPJ noted the disruption to the reporters’ lives, and the anemic state of journalism they can leave behind.
“CPJ is concerned when threats, imprisonment, and harassment force any journalist from his or her home," Joel Simon, executive director of the non-profit organization, said. "But when the media are driven out en masse as in Iraq and Somalia, a vital piece of those societies is being lost.”