Reporters Without Borders condemns armed raid on partner organization in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Reporters Without Borders condemned an armed raid on Wednesday on the Baghdad headquarters of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), its partner organization in Iraq, a press release said Thursday.

"A dozen gunmen belonging to private security forces burst into our office near Al-Fardous Square in central Baghdad this morning at the time of Fajr prayer [6:30 a.m.]," JFO director Ziyad Al-Ajili said.

The statement said the gunmen took four laptops, three hard disks, two cameras, two video cameras, walkie-talkies and 10 bulletproof jackets marked Press. They also took all of the organization's archives, which included information obtained since 2004, before vandalizing the entire office and leaving.

"The government is behind this attack. The JFO is fighting for media freedom to become a reality in Iraq and, as such, clearly poses a threat to the authorities," Al-Ajili said.

The raid came 48 hours before Iraqi journalists are due to hold a big demonstration to demand free speech and media freedom.

"The aim of this criminal raid was to silence an NGO that has been fighting for years for the right of Iraqi journalists to work freely and independently. It has not hesitated to condemn the abuses of the security forces and has often reminded the authorities of their responsibilities," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said.

Julliard also called for an independent investigation into the attack.

The JFO has played a key role in defending freedom of expression in Iraq since its creation in 2004.


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