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Iraq28 May 2009

A step forward and a step back in prime minister’s lawsuits against news media

Reporters Without Borders deplores the libel suit that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has brought against the London-based Guardian newspaper. The press freedom organisation regards the lawsuit as all the more absurd as Maliki has just withdrawn a similar libel action against Kitabat, an Iraqi news website based in Germany.

Maliki is demanding a million dollars in damages from the Guardian for describing his government as “authoritarian” in an article. He initially called for the closure of the newspaper’s bureau in Baghdad.

A Baghdad court ordered Kitabat to pay 1 billion dinars (630,000 euros) in damages on 18 May as a result of lawsuit brought by the prime minister over a January article by reporter Ali Hussein accusing his chief of staff of nepotism.

Maliki finally withdrew his action against Kitabat today. Reporters Without Borders welcomes this decision as the damages award threatened the website’s ability to continue operating. See also:

  In this country
1 June - Iraq
A journalist killed and three others wounded in two bombings
22 May - Iraq
Spanish judge reopens investigation into Spanish cameraman’s death in Baghdad
20 May - Iraq
News website latest target in government’s legal offensive against independent media
15 May - Iraq
Trade minister drops lawsuits against two newspapers
22 April - Iraq / Kurdistan
Threats to press freedom in Kurdistan

in the annual report
Iraq - Annual report 2008
Iraq - Annual Report 2007
Iraq - Annual report 2006

15 February 2009 - Israel/Gaza
Operation “Cast lead” : news control as a military objective
11 February 2009 - Tunisia
“Tunisia, the courage to inform the public”: Reporters Without Borders meets journalists living under high-level surveillance
19 March 2008 - Iraq
Hundreds of journalists forced into exile in five years since start of US-led invasion of Iraq

Petition for the release of media workers held hostage in Iraq

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Middle East press releases
3 June - Libya
Independent media brought under government control
2 June - Lebanon
French investigation at standstill four years after journalist Samir Kassir’s murder
29 May - Palestinian territories
More journalists arrested as a result of tension between Palestinian factions
28 May - Yemen
President urged to halt persecution of news media
27 May - Iran
Journalist released pending trial