Three U.S. journalists missing in Baghdad
- There has been no Iraqi acknowledgment of the journalists’ reported detainment, but they may have been sent out of the country.
March 28, 2003 — Three U.S. journalists were reported missing from their Baghdad hotel Thursday after two of them failed to contact editors and their hotel rooms were found empty. Newsday reporter Matt McAllester and photographer Moises Saman have not been heard from for several days, and freelance photojournalist Molly Bingham also has been reported missing.
McAllester and Saman contacted Newsday via e-mail Monday afternoon saying they would file stories later that day, but the material never arrived.
According to Anthony Marro, editor of Newsday, reports went around the Hotel Palestine, where many journalists are staying, that the three had been taken by Iraqi officials sometime Tuesday night Baghdad time. McAllester and Saman’s room was later found empty.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization, reported on its Web site Wednesday that fellow journalists in Baghdad saw the three put onto a bus headed for Syria. Other reports said Jordan. Others reported that the bus was stopped.
“Everything that has been said has been very fragmented and some of it is contradictory,” Marro said.
CPJ reported that visa or credential problems might have been the reason for the possible detainment. The journalists have not contacted their editors since Monday afternoon EST.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Joel Simon, acting director for CPJ, said he thinks that freelance photojournalist Bingham might have been expelled along with the Newsday journalists.
In an unrelated matter, Philip Smucker, a freelance journalist working for the Christian Science Monitor, was kicked out of southern Iraq by U.S. forces Wednesday after they concluded that he released too much information about troop positions in a report with CNN.
While talking to CNN anchor Carol Costello, Smucker had said: “We’re about 100 miles south on the main highway. It’s an unfinished highway. It goes between the Tigris and Euphrates River in the direction of Baghdad.”
“We have read the transcript of the CNN interview and it does not appear to us that he disclosed anything that wasn’t already widely available in maps and in US and British radio, newspaper, and television reports in that same news cycle,” Monitor editor Paul Van Slambrouck wrote in a column in Friday’s paper. “We are disappointed Smucker has been removed.”
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press