Afrique Ameriques Asie Europe Internet Nations unies
Iraq19 May 2003

Journalists down tools at start of EU ministers meeting in protest over Fred Nérac

Some 30 journalists covering a meeting of European foreign and defence ministers today in Brussels lay their cameras and microphones on the ground and refused to cover the ministers’ arrival in a protest against the failure of the British authorities to help investigate the disappearance of two ITN journalists, French cameraman Fred Nérac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Othman, in southern Iraq on 22 March.

The only TV cameraman there with a camera on his shoulder was Nérac himself, as the journalists present brandished six life-size photographs of the missing journalist.

Nérac’s wife Fabienne Nérac took part in the protest, handing the arriving ministers copies of a letter signed by her and Reporters Without Borders calling for urgent action in the case. It urged the ministers:

"Firstly, to put press on the British and American authorities to carry out investigations and interrogate prisoners of war at the Umm Qasr camp as soon as possible. Everyday, some of the prisoners are being released. The more time goes by, the more testimonies are being lost.

"Secondly, to put pressure on the French government and British government, as members of the European Union, to coordinate their efforts in order to mitigate the unacceptable suffering of Fred Nérac’s wife and children by activating investigations."

British defence minister Geoff Hoon refused to take the copy of the letter which Fabienne Nérac held out to him. But French defence minister Michèle Alliot-Marie took her in her arms and promised to raise the matter with Hoon. As Greece has the EU presidency, the meeting was opened by Greek foreign minister George Papandreou, who in the course of doing so read out the text of the letter from Fabienne Nérac and Reporters Without Borders.

At a press conference in Paris on 16 May, the London-based Independent Television News (ITN) reiterated its calls for an official investigation, which the British authorities have so far refused to order. The head of ITN’s international section, Nick Walshe, who is in charge of ITN’s own investigation into the disappearance of its two employees, said the need was for policemen investigating in the field, not diplomats. Fabienne Nérac has asked to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair and foreign minister Jack Straw.

Fred Nérac and Hussein Osman have been missing since the four-member ITN crew they were working with came under fire - probably from US marines - on 22 March near Basra in southern Iraq. The other two members of the crew were British reporter Terry Lloyd, 51, who was killed in the incident, and Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier, who was wounded.

  In this country
1 June - Iraq
A journalist killed and three others wounded in two bombings
28 May - Iraq
A step forward and a step back in prime minister’s lawsuits against news media
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

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

Middle East archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

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