Captive journalists may still be alive

The Romanian authorities believe three journalists kidnapped in Iraq are still alive almost 24 hours after a deadline for their execution expired.

"The three are alive and Romanian authorities have asked for the early release of Marie Jeanne Ion, hoping for sensitivity because she is a woman," a source close to the authorities involved in solving the crisis told news agency Reuters.

Prima TV reporter Ion, 32; cameraman Sorin Miscoci, 30; Romania Libera journalist Ovidiu Ohanesian, 37; and their Iraqi translator, Mohamad Munaf, were taken captive on March 28, five days after arriving in Iraq.

The kidnappers had extended the first deadline for executing their hostages by a day to 3pm yesterday and demanded that Romania withdraw its 800 troops from Iraq.

The Romanian government pleaded for another extension but 3pm passed with no word on the reporters' fate.

Campaigning organisation Reporters Without Borders and its Romanian partner, the Media Monitoring Agency, have asked for moderation from all sides.

"It is counter-productive to fuel controversy and put forward sterile hypotheses. This is not the moment for settling scores," the two groups said.

"What counts is the evidence that the four hostages are still alive, and the fact that the Romanian government has established contact with the kidnappers, which is essential."

The MMA held a press conference in Bucharest today asking Romanian TV stations to display a photos of the four hostages for 24 hours on 28 April, exactly a month after they were abducted.

Meanwhile the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly has urged media organisations working in war zones to declare that no payments or political concessions will be made to abductors.

In reaction to a spate of kidnappings in Iraq, the council has also passed a resolution stating that reporters in war zones should make it clear before they begin work in a conflict zone that any political statement they may make in the event of being taken hostage will be under coercion.

"Wide publicity and fulfilment of demands of terrorists such as the payments of large sums... increase the risk for journalists in dangerous areas," said the resolution.

The assembly urged media organisations to send only experienced journalists on war assignments and provide them with safety, first-aid and communications equipment, psychological counselling and comprehensive insurance.

"Journalists' rights to life, liberty and security... must not be compromised by growing market pressures for more direct reports from risk areas and a dubious growth of public desire for sensational reporting," the resolution said. Florence Aubenas, a reporter for French daily newspaper Liberation, and her Iraqi guide, Hussein Hanoun, have been missing since they disappeared in Baghdad on January 5.

The release of two reporters just before Christmas after four months in captivity sparked reports that the French government had paid their kidnappers a ransom to secure their release, a claim the government has denied.

Journalists in danger
27.04.2005: Kidnappers threaten to execute Romanians
08.04.2005: CBS cameraman shot by US troops
29.03.2005: Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq
07.03.2005: Italian hostage accuses US
18.02.2005: Journalist group calls US to account over Iraq
16.02.2005: Kidnapped journalist makes video plea for freedom
04.02.2005: Italian reporter kidnapped in Iraq
09.02.2005: Journalist killed with son in Iraq
04.05.2004: Media death toll highest for a decade
27.08.2004: Media war toll rises
18.01.2005: Do more to protect journalists, governments told
18.01.2005: Journalists' killers 'not being brought to justice'
International News Safety Institute

Useful links
13.09.2004: War toll: journalists killed and missing in Iraq

Iraqi elections
31.01.2005: World's news channels play to prejudices
18.01.2005: Broadcasters send in reinforcements for Iraq poll

French and Italian journalists kidnapped
09.02.2005: France 'doing all it can' to free journalist
04.02.2005: Italian reporter kidnapped in Iraq
07.02.2005: France and Italy consider link between kidnappings
02.02.2005: French PM fuels fears for missing reporter
31.01.2005: Aubenas: we're doing what we can, say French
17.01.2005: Journalist 'kidnapped for ransom' says Iraq
10.01.2005: French reporter probably abducted, employer says
07.01.2005: Keep out of Iraq, Chirac tells media
07.01.2005: French journalist missing in Iraq
22.12.2004: Freed hostages speak of ordeal
22.12.2004: France did not pay ransom for hostages' release
22.12.2004: Iraqi captors free French journalists

30.09.2004: Spin doctors wear beards and kaftans, too
28.09.2004: David Aaronovitch: We must stop bolstering the beheaders

Falluja controversy
23.11.2004: Cameraman breaks silence on prisoner's shooting
23.11.2004: Why I broadcast shooting: open letter to marines
16.11.2004: Inquiry into shooting of wounded Iraqi shown on TV
19.11.2004: Rules of engagement: embedded in Falluja

Media casualties of Iraq war
19.11.2004: Award for Iraqi cameramen
19.11.2004: US military 'still failing to protect journalists in Iraq'
17.11.2004: US troops 'not to blame for death of journalists'
02.11.2004: Reuters disputes US version of cameraman's death
27.08.2004: Killing of Italian journalist condemned as 'barbaric'
13.08.2004: British hostage freed
21.05.2004: Al-Jazeera man killed in Iraq
23.04.2004: US swells Iraq media death toll
13.01.2004: US military 'brutalised' journalists

BBC crew attacked in Saudi Arabia
28.06.2004: Funeral for BBC man killed in Saudi shooting
14.06.2004: BBC man regains consciousness
14.06.2004: Journalists are now combatants, says Simpson
14.06.2004: Jeremy Bowen: Now we're the target
08.06.2004: Simon Cumbers obituary by Orla Guerin

ITN's Terry Lloyd and crew
22.03.2004: ITV journalists 'killed by US troops'
22.03.2004: Wife of missing cameraman fights on
10.09.2003: ITN rejects new Lloyd claims
16.04.2003: Wife of missing ITN man in fresh appeal
15.04.2003: Lloyd 'caught between crossfire'
24.03.2003: Terry Lloyd obituary by David Mannion

BBC's John Simpson survives attack
11.11.2003: Libby Brooks talks to John Simpson
09.04.2003: Simpson: journalists 'taking a hammering'
07.04.2003: Simpson recovering from 'friendly fire' attack
07.04.2003: Simpson: 'I saw the bomb come down'

Journalists under attack
30.05.2003: BBC brings in 'safety tsar'
25.04.2003: Powell defends attack on Baghdad hotel
16.04.2003: First female journalist dies in Iraq
10.04.2003: Editors blast Rumsfeld over 'reckless' US strike
09.04.2003: Fury at US as attacks kill three journalists
08.04.2003: Army admits firing on hotel
08.04.2003: Reuters man killed in US attack
08.04.2003: Journalists injured as Baghdad hotel attacked

Kaveh Ibrahim Golestan and Stuart Hughes
20.05.2003: Do not rely on embedded journalists, urges BBC man
08.04.2003: BBC producer has foot amputated
03.04.2003: BBC film maker killed by landmine
04.04.2003: Obituary: Kaveh Golestan

Farzad Bazoft
18.05.2003: Writer hanged by Iraq 'no spy'
18.05.2003: Donald Trelford: Simply a journalist after a scoop

NBC's David Bloom
07.04.2003: Blood clot kills NBC's star correspondent
08.04.2003: Obituary: David Bloom

Channel 4 News' Gaby Rado
13.06.2003: Rado among winners at media awards
27.05.2003: Amnesty creates award in honour of Rado
31.03.2003: Viewers and colleagues pay tribute to Rado
31.03.2003: Gaby Rado obituary by Jon Snow special report
Iraq - the media war

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