Russia9 September 2004
Release of Al-Arabiya bureau chief in Moscow
Amr Abdel Hamid, head of the Moscow bureau of Al-Arabiya television, who was
arrested on 6 September after a bullet was found among his possessions, was
released on 8 September. A legal investigation is continuing.
Al-Arabiya’s Moscow bureau chief arrested in Caucasia
Reporters Without Borders today questioned the detention of Amr Abdel Hamid, the Moscow bureau chief of the pan-Arab TV news station Al-Arabiya, who was arrested yesterday at Mineralniye Vody airport (in the southern region of Caucasia) as he was about to fly back to Moscow after covering the hostage massacre in Beslan.
In a letter to Russian interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, the organisation requested additional information "in order to understand the circumstances and reasons for this arrest."
According to Al-Arabiya, Hamid was apparently arrested after a bullet was found in his belongings. Hamid said it was put there without his knowledge. A judicial investigation is under way.
The arrest coincided with the dismissal of Raf Shakirov as editor of the daily Izvestia in an editorial disagreement with Profmedia, the company that publishes the newspaper. Profmedia reportedly considered Izvestia’s coverage of the Beslan tragedy to be too "emotional." The daily ran full-page photos of dead hostages and was one of the first news outlets to put the number of hostages at more than a thousand while the Russian authorities were still saying they were only about 300.
Meanwhile, the Beslan police are still holding the two employees of the Georgian TV station Rustavi 2, Nana Lezhava and cameraman Levan Tetvadze, who were arrested on 4 September. Two Russian journalists who specialise in Chechnya, Andrei Babitski and Anna Politkovskaya, were also prevented from covering the hostage-taking in Beslan.