August 17th, 2004


Is it freedom yet?!

When Allawi's government ordered reporters to leave Najaf, it wasn't entirely friendly. Truth is, they were threatenned with violence by the interim Iraqi government. In his latest article, Donald Macintyre in Najaf reports:

"A police lieutenant arrived at the hotel at 6.30pm in a convoy of two Toyota Land Cruisers from the local police station. He demanded to know the whereabouts of correspondents from al-Arabiya and the Reuters and AP news agencies.

As journalists protested, the lieutenant said above the hubbub: "We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves." In a threat that did not immediately appear to have been carried out, he said four snipers would be positioned on the roof of the police station to fire at any journalists who left the hotel. . . Scuffling broke out as a hotel employee angrily remonstrated with the policemen saying "Are you Iraqis? You are police but you have no right to do this." The police then drove off, stopping 300 metres down the road and fired warning shots in the direction of the hotel."

And this is better for freedom of the press than Saddam-era "minders", how?!