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UNESCO Calls For Release Of Italian Journalist

UNESCO Calls For Release Of Italian Journalist Kidnapped In Iraq

In yet another intervention in defence of journalists, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization today called for the release of an Italian reporter kidnapped in Iraq, stressing that press freedom is an essential ingredient of democracy.

Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped on 4 February in the centre of Baghdad by a group of armed men. She was investigating the plight of refugees from Fallujah, living in a mosque within the walls of Baghdad University.

“Once again I must stress that in Iraq, as elsewhere, democracy cannot flourish without press freedom, and without freedom of movement for journalists,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement released today.

“Giuliana Sgrena, along with French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, who have been missing since January 5, must be freed,” he added. “Journalists must not be treated as targets. They are civilians carrying out a task recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which places freedom of expression among the fundamental human rights.”

Mr. Matsuura already made an urgent appeal for Ms. Aubenas’ release last week. He has issued frequent denunciations in recent years over the murder of and attacks on journalists around the world. UNESCO’s mandate includes the defence of freedom of expression and press freedom.

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