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Iraq31 March 2003

Reporters Without Borders calls on Iraqi authorities to explain disappearance of four journalists

Reporters Without Borders called today on Iraqi officials to reveal the whereabouts of four Western journalists who have been missing for a week. According to colleagues in Baghdad, they were being held by the regime.

"We are very worried about them," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "Whatever the authorities are accusing them of, their editors and their families should be told and they should be freed immediately."

Two of the four - Peruvian Moises Saman and Briton Matthew McAllester, both working for the US daily Newsday - were seen for the last time on 24 March at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. Other reporters there said the authorities were going to deport them and other journalists because they had entered the country only on tourist visas. The plan was to expel them by bus, presumably across the border with Syria.

The other two missing - freelance American photographer Molly Bingham and a Danish photographer working for the Danish daily paper Jyllands-Posten, Johan Spanner - were also reportedly earmarked for deportation.

Reporters Without Borders has been keeping count since 28 March on its website www.rsf.org ’s special Iraq page of the number of journalists killed, wounded and missing while covering the war.




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