RSF reports that almost all journalists abducted in 2021 were in the Middle East
Sixty-four out of 65 reporters kidnapped this year were in the Mideast. The one exception is a French reporter who went missing in Mali in April. At least 44 kidnappings took place in Syria, 11 in Iraq, and nine in Yemen. This is an all-time high; however, 2021 saw the lowest number of killings in 25 years (46).
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Almost all of the journalists abducted in the world this year were in a Middle Eastern country at the time of they went missing, this according to a recent report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF[*]).
Overall, 65 reporters are currently being held in the world, 64 of them by extremist and jihadi gangs and organised groups in Middle Eastern area.
The report, which includes reporters who were arrested, killed, held hostage and gone missing, indicates that 44 abductions took place in Syria, 11 in Iraq and nine in Yemen.
French journalist Olivier Dubois, who disappeared in Mali in April, is the only one held outside the region.
In Syria, the main threat is represented by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an extremist group that controls the Idlib region, in the north-west of the country, one of the few areas still outside government control.
HTS kidnapped four journalists this year: Khaled Hseno, Adham Dashrne and the brothers Bashar and Mohamed Alshekh.
In total about 488 media professionals are in detention around the world, the highest number since RSF began keeping such data more than 25 years ago.
Conversely, this year has had so far, the lowest number of journalists killed (46) in a quarter of a century, largely due to the relative stabilisation of conflicts in the Middle East after the peak of 2016.
Of all the killings that took place in 2021, the vast majority resulted from murders: “65 per cent were deliberately targeted to be eliminated”.
The number of journalists arrested is also up, 60 in total, a third more than in 2020.
Among the most striking cases in the Mideast there is that of Ali Aboluhom, a journalist of Yemeni origin who was given a 15-year sentence in Saudi Arabia for a tweet containing “ideas of apostasy, atheism and blasphemy”.
The oldest journalist under arrest is Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, one of 12 reporters currently jailed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The 72-year-old editor-in-chief of Iran Farda was sentenced to three years in prison for “anti-government propaganda”.
[*] Reporters sans frontières.