Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reuters again victim of renowned Arab respect for freedom of the press

On March 19th, Reuters reported that following coverage of a Palestinian "unity rally" in Gaza, its local office had been attacked by a gang of men identifying themselves as members of the terrorist group Hamas.  The attackers took a video camera, smashed the arm of one journalist with a metal bar, and threatened to throw another out of a high-rise window.

Today, Reuters reports that two of its television journalists in Syria have gone missing:
Beirut-based producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji had been expected to cross into Lebanon by road at approximately 1830 GMT on Saturday, where they had arranged for a taxi to pick them up from the border.
The last known contact was at 1722 GMT, when Baltaji sent a phone message to a colleague in Beirut in which he said: "We will leave now."
Basma and Baltaji, both Lebanese nationals, travelled to Syria on Thursday afternoon. Mass protests that erupted 10 days ago have posed the biggest challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule.
The two journalists have been unreachable by telephone since Saturday night.
Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said: "Reuters is deeply concerned about our two Reuters television colleagues who went missing in Syria on Saturday. We have reached out to the relevant authorities in Syria and have asked for their help in securing our colleagues' safe return home."
A Syrian official told Reuters on Sunday that authorities were working on resolving the issue.
Another Reuters journalist, whose stories have frequently featured on this site, has not fared much better:
On Friday, Syrian authorities withdrew the accreditation of Reuters text correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, saying he had filed "unprofessional and false" coverage of events in Syria.
Apparently, Bashar al-Assad did not consider Oweis' stories sufficiently pro-Syrian.

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