Nadir Dendoune, a visiting journalist with French, Algerian and Australian nationality, was released this afternoon from a Baghdad prison. The French ambassador to Baghdad confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that he was released on bail after being held for 23 days. He is now at the French embassy.
The date of his return to France is not yet known and Reporters Without Borders is waiting to learn the exact conditions of his release.
“The announcement of Dendoune’s release is an immense relief after 23 days of worry,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “He was arrested simply for doing his work as a journalist. A campaign by his family and fellow journalists in France and Iraq has borne fruit. Reporters Without Borders thanks all the journalists who signed the petition for his release launched by RWB and the support committee.”
Dendoune arrived in Iraq on 16 January to do a series of reports for the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique and the magazine Le Courrier de l’Atlas. According to the French foreign ministry, he was arrested near a water treatment plant in the southwest Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora while out reporting on 23 January.
Accompanied by a lawyer, he was brought before a judge on 5 February. The judge ruled that he should remain in custody “for the purposes of the investigation.”
Reporters Without Borders and its partner organization in Iraq, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, wrote to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki on 30 January requesting Dendoune’s release. Reporters Without Borders also filed a request for a visa at the Iraqi embassy in Paris.
Iraq is ranked 150th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.