Reporters Without Borders calls on international community to save Italian journalist

16 February 2005

Reporters Without Borders expressed outrage and horror at a video broadcast today showing kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena tearfully calling for her country to withdraw its troops from Iraq. "Nobody has forgotten the execution of her compatriot and colleague Enzo Baldoni, who was also forced to make such an appeal by his kidnappers," it said.

"We urge the international community, led by the European Community, to mobilize all its resources to obtain Sgrena's release. It is urgent to show genuine European and worldwide solidarity in the face of this appalling blackmail. Many governments and leading politicians have not yet spoken up to call for her release. They must do so at once.

"We stress to the kidnappers that Sgrena is simply a journalist doing her job, which included describing the plight of ordinary Iraqis. She is not a spy and must not be killed because of the policies of her government," the worldwide press freedom organization said.

Sgrena, senior reporter in Iraq for the Italian daily paper Il Manifesto, appeared distraught in the video clip broadcast by Italian TV stations. She tearfully called for withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq and asked her partner, Pierre Scolari, to help her. They were the first pictures of the journalist since she was kidnapped on 4 February.

"Nobody else should come to Iraq. Please do something for me. Get the government to withdraw its troops. My life depends on it," she said.

The video was sent to Associated Press Television News (APTN) and then passed on Italian TV stations. Behind a haggard-looking Sgrena, dressed in green, was the name in red letters of an unknown group, "Mujahedeen Without Borders."

Two other groups have so far said they kidnapped Sgrena - the Islamic Jihad Organisation and the Jihad Organisation in Rafidain (Mesopotamia) - but their claims are not regarded as very credible.


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