Arab media is asked to help free journalists

“Without journalists, the world would be full of blackholes where the worst can happen in silence”.

This
was part of a statement from French daily Liberation, in support of a
kidnapped journalist, that was read out at the launch of the first
Middle East Publishing Conference in Dubai Liberation reporter Florence
Aubenas, 43, and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanou al-Saadi,
disappeared in Baghdad on 5 January.

Launching the conference,
World Association of Newspapers director general Tim Spalding said: “In
calling for her immediate release, I want to ask you, as
representatives of the Arab media, to continue to write and talk about
this case and to join appeals for the release of our colleagues.

“Your
role in securing their freedom could be of vital importance. It is my
duty – and, I believe, yours – to talk about this case.”

Reading
from a statement provided by Liberation he said: “A free press is vital
to all the people in the world, irrespective of their culture, faith or
political convictions. Help us by informing on Florence’s and Hussein’s
case to protect them and defend our own freedom.”

Spalding also
called on Middle East governments to lift restrictions on freedom of
the press and for newspapers themselves to end “self-censorship”.

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