Friday, August 27, 2004

Media freedom in Iraq, part III

Having failed to deter the international media from covering the fighting in Najaf by repeatedly threatening to kill them, the Iraqi authorities have upped the ante, dragging them from their rooms at gunpoint to attend an impromptu press conference:

Correspondents in the Najaf Sea hotel said around a dozen policemen, some masked, stormed into the rooms of journalists and forced them into vans and a truck.

The Independent's Donald Macintyre reported that the police, some masked, "shouted threats and abuse at the reporters, along with their Iraqi drivers and translators, and fired about a dozen shots inside and outside the hotel before taking them before the police chief, Major-General Ghaleb al-Jazaari, to hear his emotional complaints about media coverage and the sufferings of police officers during the present crisis".

And the Daily Telegraph said today that its correspondent, a translator and a driver had been forced into a bus and two lorries before being subjected to a "tirade against the press".

The Iraqi Police, it seems, do not like the fact that the world is watching. But more importantly, they do not like the thought that their fellow Iraqis are watching - watching them doing the Americans' dirty work.