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Journalist Fabricated Claim Family Was Massacred


Journalist fabricated claim that his family was massacred

Reporters Without Borders is astounded and angry to discover that a journalist's claim that 11 of his close relatives were murdered last weekend is false. Amman-based Iraqi journalist Dia al-Kawwaz had claimed on 26 November 2007 that 11 members of his immediate family members were shot by gunmen the previous day in Baghdad.

"We are obviously relieved to learn that the Kawwaz family is safe and sound but this journalist's behaviour is unacceptable," the press freedom organisation said. "We are appalled by this deceit, which is not only sordid but also dangerous as it obscures the fact that the families of dozens of journalists have been exposed to violence by Iraq's armed groups."

Reporters Without Borders added: "A great many journalists have had to abandon everything in recent years - their homes and their loved ones - in order to seek refuge abroad. This case must not be allowed to undermine the credibility of the ordeals they describe."

Journalists with Al-Hurra TV met on 28 November in Baghdad with members of the Kawwaz family, who denied Dia al-Kawwaz's claims and said he must have done it "to obtain money from abroad." Many Jordanian dignitaries attended a wake organised by Kawwaz in Amman on 26 November.

When Reporters Without Borders contacted Kawwaz he was evasive about the alleged incident and could not name the relatives who had supposedly been killed. Questioned several times by Agence France-Presse, he was unable to give the exact address of the family home where the massacre allegedly took place or where the victims were supposedly buried.

On the website of the online newspaper he edits, "Shabeqat Akhbar al-Iraq", he said his family had been "pressured to deny the facts."

Kawwaz's claim had been quickly denied by Iraqi interior ministry spokesman Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf. "It is a lie," he said. "Nothing of the sort happened. We always investigate murders of this nature." Another government spokesman said he had contacted Kawwaz's mother in Baghdad.

ENDS

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