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Journalists Missing

CPJ research indicates that the following journalists have disappeared while doing their work. Although some of them are feared dead, no bodies have been found, and they are therefore not classified as "Killed." If a journalist disappeared after being held in government custody, CPJ classifies him or her as "Imprisoned" as a way to hold the government accountable for the journalist's fate.

Cases of journalists missing in conflict zones or areas under the control of militant groups, such as in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen are extremely difficult to track. Information is scarce, the situation is constantly changing, and some cases go unreported.

2015

IRAQ: 1

Ahmed Al-Dulami

Iraqi cameraman Ahmad al-Dulami, who professionally used the name Ahmad al-Watany, was abducted by members of the Islamic State group in summer 2014 in Baiji, north of Tikrit. His whereabouts remain unknown. There are multiple unconfirmed reports of his execution, but his death has not been confirmed.

Al-Dulami’s family were told in January 2015 that he had been killed, a journalist familiar with the case told the Committee to Protect Journalists in Irbil. Local media reported at the time that the cameraman was abducted while reporting near Baiji’s general hospital and executed in the city center on January 31, 2015. Al-Dulami’s body was recovered that morning, another Iraqi news website reported.

His body was never returned to his family, and they continue to hope he is alive, the Irbil journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said. Two other Irbil-based journalists and an employee of a local media watchdog also said they believe Al-Dulami is dead, but cannot confirm his death without having seen his body.

Al-Dulami worked for the independent Sharqiya TV. The outlet has never confirmed Al-Dulami’s death, and did not respond to calls or emails from CPJ.

SYRIA: 4

Ángel Sastre, freelance, July 13, 2015, Aleppo

Antonio Pampliega, freelance, July 13, 2015, Aleppo

José Manuel López, freelance, July 13, 2015, Aleppo

Spanish freelance journalists Sastre, Pampliega, and López went missing in Syria on July 13 2015, according to the Spanish Press Federations of Journalists Associations (FAPE) and a statement issued by their families on July 21, 2015.

The journalists were last known to be in Aleppo, Spanish media reported, citing government sources in Madrid. El País wrote that the sources "do not have any indications of a kidnapping incident."

The families said in the statement they did not have more information on the journalists’ location or status. Sastre, a TV correspondent, Pampliega, a reporter who had contributed to AFP coverage in Syria, and López, a photojournalist who had contributed to the Spanish paper Expreso and French newspaper Le Monde, had entered Syria a few days before they went missing, according to reports and a statement issued by the International Federation of Journalists.

As of mid-December 2015, no updates had been made public about their status.

Jumpei Yasuda, freelance, June 23, 2015, Syria

Japanese freelance reporter Yasuda went missing in June 2015, after saying he planned to enter Syria from Turkey, according to a CNN report that cited an unnamed friend of Yasuda's.

On June 20, 2015, shortly before he went missing, the freelance Japanese reporter posted on Twitter that reporting in northern Syria was becoming increasingly dangerous.

Kosuke Tsuneoka, another Japanese freelance reporter, told The Associated Press in July 2015 that he had not heard from Yasuda since June 23, 2015, which he said was unusual. “It is not normal that there has been no contact from him at all,” Tsuneoka said.

Yasuda was described in reports as an experienced journalist who had previously reported from Afghanistan and Iraq.

CPJ's efforts to reach Yasuda's family in Japan in July 2015 were unsuccessful.

As of mid-December 2015, no updates had been made public about Yasuda’s case.

2014

IRAQ: 5

Maisloon al-Jawady, Al-Mosuliya TV, June 29, 2014, Mosul

Al-Mosuliya TV presenter al-Jawady was kidnapped by Islamic State militants on June 29, 2014, colleagues told CPJ. She was one of the first journalists taken by the militant group when it seized Mosul, one of her colleagues said.

Al-Jawady was a presenter on the U.S.-funded TV channel al-Mosuliya TV until June 10, 2014, when Islamic State forced the outlet to close. She was held in a women’s prison the militants had taken over in the city and was tortured, according to news reports that cited Iraqi monitoring group Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. The reports did not provide further details of how she had been tortured.

A former producer at Al-Mosuliya TV, who lives in exile in Irbil and who has not been named out of concerns for his safety, told CPJ that even though the channel's U.S. funding ceased in 2009, a perception that its staff were agents of America stuck. The producer said that when Islamic State seized Mosul, militants smashed the channel’s technical equipment and seized some of its staff.

A presenter for al-Mosuliya TV, who has not been named out of security concerns, told CPJ, “They came to her house and kidnapped her. She was the first journalist from our channel who I remember being taken.” The presenter, who spoke with CPJ in the Iraqi city of Irbil, added, “She was the public face of the channel, everyone knew her so they went for her first.”

The Iraqi Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms told CPJ in an emailed statement that it was told by unnamed contacts in Mosul that al-Jawady was killed on July 4, 2014, after being accused by the militants of “working against [Islamic State] interests and carrying out media activities that necessitated her arrest.”

Several months after al-Jawady was kidnapped, militants told her family she had been killed, the al-Mosuliya TV colleague said. An editor at al-Mosuliya TV, who also spoke with CPJ and who asked to remain anonymous out of concerns for his safety, said Islamic State took the unusual step of telling the family in November 2014 that al-Jawady had been killed.

No body was returned to the family.

The Nineveh Reporters Network, the Nineveh Media Foundation, and the Society for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iraq, whose head, Mustafa Nasser, told CPJ he had spoken directly to the family about al-Jawady’s death, all reported that the journalist had been killed.

Al-Jawady had unsuccessfully stood as a candidate in the Iraq Council of Representatives in April 2014, a news report said. The report speculated that her political work made her target. The al-Mosuliya TV editor with whom CPJ spoke acknowledged that this could have been a factor, but said that a perception that the channel was pro-American in its reporting made its staff vulnerable to Islamic State attack.

Jamal Sobhy, Al-Mosuliya TV, July 2014, Mosul

Egyptian journalist Sobhy, also known as Jamal al-Masri, was kidnapped by Islamic State militants from his home in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2014, colleagues at Al-Mosuliya TV, told CPJ.

Sobhy was a presenter and broadcast reporter for the U.S. government-funded local channel, which was forced to close when Islamic State militants seized Mosul in June 2014. A former producer at Al-Mosuliya TV, who lives in exile in Irbil and who has not been named out of concerns for his safety, told CPJ that even though the channel's U.S. funding ceased in 2009, a perception that its staff were agents of America stuck. The producer said that when Islamic State seized Mosul, militants smashed the channel’s technical equipment and seized some of its staff.

The Society for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iraq, a media monitoring group, told CPJ in an emailed statement that Sobhy had been killed, although it was unable to provide the date or further information. According to a colleague of Sobhy’s, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivities of the case, the presenter died while being tortured. He said he knew this from “sources inside the security services.”

In September 2015, Sobhy’s name appeared on a list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed, which militants posted in coroner’s offices and police stations in Mosul, several of his colleagues told CPJ.

CPJ has been unable to independently verify if Sobhy’s name appeared on the list and his family say his body was never returned.

Mohammed al-Bayati, who also worked for Al-Mosuliya TV, told CPJ that when he spoke to Sobhy’s family in August 2015 they told him they had never received a body and believe the journalist is alive. The Iraqi press freedom groups Nineveh Reporters Network and the Nineveh Media Foundation both describe Sobhy as being jailed, a term that includes those the two groups believe are held by Islamic State.

Omar Younis al-Ghaafiqi, Sama Mosul, July 2014, Mosul

Al-Ghaafiqi, a video journalist and technician, was kidnapped by Islamic State militants in July 2014, several former employees at the channel he worked for, including its general director, Akram Tawfeek, told CPJ during a series of interviews in the Iraqi city of Irbil in October 2015.

Al-Ghaafiqi worked for Sama Mosul, a TV channel established and run under the patronage of former Mosul governor Atheel Nujaifi. On June 10, 2014, the day Islamic State militants seized Mosul, the station closed immediately over fears its staff may be targeted by the militants, Tawfeek, told CPJ.

A few weeks after the station closed, al-Ghaafiqi, 22, was kidnapped from his home with his father, who is a government employee, a colleague and friend of al-Ghaafiqi, who asked not to be named out of security concerns, told CPJ.

Tawfeek and several other Sama Mosul employees, with whom CPJ spoke and who have not been named to protect their identity, said they believed al-Ghaafiqi was dead because his name appeared on a list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed. The list was posted in police stations and at coroner’s offices in September 2015. A Sama Mosul employee told CPJ he had seen a copy of the list and that al-Ghaafiqi’s name was on it. CPJ could not independently confirm the details of the list.

Although the journalists with whom CPJ spoke say al-Ghaafiqi was named on the list, no body was returned to his family, Jamal Badrani, a Mosul reporter living in exile, told CPJ.

Muhannad al-Okaidi, Al-Mosuliya TV, August 2014, Mosul

TV presenter al-Okaidi was kidnapped by Islamic State militants in Mosul in August 2014, colleagues told CPJ during a series of interviews in the Iraqi city of Irbil.

Some of the journalists with whom CPJ spoke said al-Okaidi was taken from his home. A colleague from al-Mosuliya TV, who requested anonymity because of security concerns, said al-Okaidi had tried to flee Mosul in August 2014 with his press card but was stopped at a checkpoint manned by Islamic State militants and taken hostage. The colleague did not say how he knew al-Okaidi had his press card with him or how he knew he had been stopped at a checkpoint.

The colleague added that it was possible al-Okaidi had signed a “repentance list,” a document journalists and members of the security services were ordered by Islamic State militants to sign to avoid being taken captive by the group. This list, which states the signatory has been “forgiven,” is widely believed to be a way of establishing the names and contact details of prominent opponents of the militant group, who were then directly targeted.

A former producer at Al-Mosuliya TV, where al-Okaidi worked and who lives in exile in Irbil, told CPJ that even though the channel's U.S. funding ceased in 2009, a perception that its staff were agents of America stuck. The producer, who has not been named out of concerns for his safety, said that when Islamic State seized Mosul, militants smashed the channel’s technical equipment and seized some of its staff.

On 13 October 2014, the Iraqi Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms and Rudaw, an independent Iraqi Kurdish news outlet that cited an account by the Kurdish political party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, reported that al-Okaidi had been shot dead. Rudaw said that al-Okaidi’s family had been called in to identify his body.

However, in a report published October 20, 2014, the family said they had spoken to their kidnapped son on the phone a few days earlier and that he said he was being held by Islamic State.

In September 2015, al-Okaidi’s name appeared on a list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed in Mosul, which was posted in coroner’s offices and police stations in the city, several of the journalist’s colleagues told CPJ. CPJ has been unable to confirm that al-Okaidi’s name appeared on the list.

The family say they never received al-Okaidi’s body and believe he is alive, another al-Mosuliya TV colleague, who asked not to be named because of security concerns, told CPJ. Other colleagues interviewed by CPJ in Irbil said they could not be sure if the journalist had been killed.

Representatives of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, the Nineveh Reporters Network, and the Nineveh Media Foundation told CPJ that they consider al-Okaidi imprisoned. The groups counts journalists being held by Islamic State as jailed. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory describes al-Okaidi’s case as an “enforced disappearance.”

Qais Talal, Sama Mosul, August 2014, Mosul

Iraqi reporter Talal was kidnapped by Islamic State militants from his house in Mosul in August 2014, colleagues of the missing journalist told CPJ. Talal worked for Sama Mosul, an independent pro-government channel established and funded by former Mosul governor Atheel Nujaifi.

Akram Tawfeek, who was the director of Sama Mosul before Islamic State forced the channel to close in June 2014, told CPJ in an interview in Irbil that Talal was kidnapped in August 2014, two months after being questioned by militants. It was unclear why he was questioned, Tawfeek said.

A journalist based in Mosul until the summer of 2014, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, told CPJ that he had spoken with a friend of Talal’s family. According to the journalist, before the Eid al-Fitr celebration in 2015 there were rumours of an amnesty of hostages held by Islamic State to mark the holiday. Talal’s family asked around to see if he would be one of those freed, but were told by Islamic State militants he has been killed.

A journalist, who worked at Sama Mosul with Talal and who asked not to be named because of the sensitivities of the case, told CPJ when he spoke with Talal’s father on September 31, 2015 the father said the family did not know what happened to their son. They had heard many reports that he died, but said they had not received his body. The family said Talal’s name was not included on a September 2015 list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed.

In a meeting with CPJ, someone with knowledge of the journalist’s case and who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions, said “sources inside Islamic State” confirmed to him that Talal had been killed, likely in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

A joint report by press freedom groups the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory and Reporters Without Borders, and statements that the Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedom and the Iraqi Journalism Syndicate emailed to CPJ also report that Talal was shot dead in February 2015.

Tawfeek said he believes Talal is alive and being held hostage.

Yasser Hamdani, head of the Nineveh Media Foundation and the Mosul representative of Ibrahim al-Sragey’s Iraqi Journalist Rights Defense Association, told CPJ that without a body the two groups he works for would continue to consider Talal’s case as “enforced disappeared.” The Nineveh Reporters Network said in an email to CPJ that it also describes the journalist as missing.

LIBYA: 4

Younis al-Mabrok al-Moghazy, Al Barqa TV, August 2014, eastern Libya

Mohammed Galal Okasha, Al Barqa TV, August 2014, eastern Libya

Libyan correspondent Younis al-Mabrok al-Moghazy and Egyptian cameraman Mohammed Galal Okasha went missing while on assignment for the privately owned station Al Barqa TV in August 2014, according to news reports. They had been covering the election of the new parliament in Tobruk and were on their way back to Benghazi when they went missing alongside an administrative worker, Khaled al-Sabihi, and security guards Yousef al-Jmoudy and Abdul Salam al-Maghrabi, according to news reports.

On April 28, 2015, a spokesman for Libya’s Tobruk-based government announced that the journalists had been killed by Islamic State militants. The spokesman said five suspected Islamic State militants arrested by the authorities confessed to kidnapping and murdering the journalists, in addition to two missing Tunisian journalists, Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Guetari.

According to some news reports, Libyan government officials said they knew where the bodies were buried but could not reach them. Other outlets reported that a Libyan army general said the bodies of the two Al Barqa journalists and three others had been found outside the city of Bayda, eastern Libya. The government was not able to reach the bodies because of fighting in the area, the general told reporters in April 2015.

Citing information posted on Facebook by Okasha’s cousin, Doaa Sultan, Egyptian media reported that Okasha was killed on April 28, 2015. Sultan, who is a journalist in Egypt, posted later that day that the information about his cousin’s death was not confirmed.

Okasha’s sister, Neven, told CPJ in 2015 that the Egyptian government and foreign ministry has not provided any official information about the case.

Neven Okasha said that Al Barqa TV initially confirmed her brother’s death to the family and said his body had been found. She said that when she insisted it send the body to the family in cooperation with the Egyptian foreign ministry, the channel told her the body was not that of her brother.

CPJ’s queries to Al Barqa TV went unanswered.

Sofiene Chourabi, First TV, September 8, 2014, Brega

Nadhir Guetari, First TV, September 8, 2014, Brega

Tunisian journalists Chourabi and Guetari, who worked for the privately owned Tunisian satellite channel First TV, were kidnapped twice while reporting in eastern Libya in September 2014, according to news reports.

On September 3, 2014, Chourabi and Guetari were kidnapped by a militia in Brega that some news reports said was affiliated with the government. They were released four days later. On September 8, 2014 they were taken again by a militia near Ajdabiya, according to news reports.

In a statement posted on jihadist websites on January 8, 2015 a group affiliated with Islamic State claimed to have killed the two Tunisians. The claim was not confirmed by either the Libyan or Tunisian governments, according to news reports.

On April 28, 2015, a spokesman for Libya’s Tobruk-based government announced that the journalists had been killed by Islamic State militants. The spokesman said five militants who were under arrest confessed to kidnapping and murdering the journalists. News reports said that a group called Shabab al-Tawhid (Youth for Unity) posted an audio recording on Twitter of what it said was a Tunisian militant affiliated with Islamic State in Libya confirming that the journalists had been shot dead.

The Tunisian government, which sent investigators to Libya to look into the case in early 2015, maintains that the journalists are alive. Tunisia’s foreign minister, Tayeb Baccouche, told reporters in November 2015 that the government had evidence that both journalists were still alive but did not disclose further details.

Guetari’s father, Sami, also told reporters in August 2015 that he believes his son is alive. He said the family has been in negotiations with kidnappers, but did not give further details.

MALDIVES: 1

Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, Minivan News, August 8, 2014, Malé

Rilwan, a reporter for independent news website Minivan News, was last seen by his family and colleagues on August 7, 2014, according to news reports. A Minivan News report suggested Rilwan had been abducted during the early hours of August 8. A group of men appeared to be tracking Rilwan’s movements as he boarded a ferry to go home, according to the report which cited CCTV footage. A man dressed in dark clothes was forced into a vehicle at knifepoint outside Rilwan's apartment at around 2 a.m., according to the report which cited witnesses.

Rilwan, known to his Twitter followers as "Moyameehaa," often criticized local politicians and Islamists in his reporting. Before he went missing, Rilwan published a report about how local journalists had received death threats warning them against reporting on criminal gangs. He also wrote about Maldivian militants fighting in Syria.

Rilwan's family, friends, and colleagues organized search teams to try to find him. Rilwan's colleagues have repeatedly said in interviews that authorities were slow to act and that the official investigation has been inadequate, according to news accounts. They said that police took several days to search Rilwan's office for clues, and by August 2015 police had yet to categorize his case as an abduction, kidnapping, or missing person's case. Suspects implicated in the journalist's disappearance by police were able to leave the country to join the conflict in Syria, according to news reports.

In the weeks after his disappearance, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, an independent statutory body, suggested that authorities were not doing enough to investigate Rilwan's disappearance, according to reports. The United Nations also voiced its concern about the case.

In September 2014, Rilwan's family asked the Police Integrity Commission, an official oversight body, to investigate allegations of police negligence in the handling of the case. The commission agreed, but has yet to release a report on the matter, according to news reports.

Rilwan's family has supported calls for an independent inquiry into his disappearance, but their efforts have stalled, according to news reports.

SYRIA: 1

Walid al-Qasim, Aleppo News Network, Aleppo, October 12, 2014

Al-Qassim, a reporter for the pro-opposition outlet Aleppo News Network, was detained at a checkpoint manned by the Nusra Front in the Aleppo district of Hreetan after reporting on clashes between rebel soldiers and Islamic State militants on October 12, 2014, according to Ali al-Muslim, who worked closely with al-Qasim at the station.

Al-Qasim was with three members of the Dawn of Freedom rebel brigade and the group’s driver at the time. The reporter was not affiliated with the brigade. The five men were handed to Darulqadaa, an unofficial court with links to Nusra Front, al Muslim said.

In December 2014, one of the rebels and the group’s driver were released, Amer Hassan, a press officer for Dawn of Freedom, told CPJ. Hassan said the pair told him al-Qasim was being held by Nusra Front.

Al-Muslim said that senior figures at Aleppo News Network told members of Darulqadaa that al-Qasim was a reporter, not a fighter, and should be released. Dawn of Freedom representatives also contacted the unofficial court to say that al-Qasim was a member of the press, Hassan told CPJ.

Al-Muslim, who spoke with someone at Darulqadaa , said that on January 26, 2015, al-Qasim and the two remaining rebels were killed after being accused of “apostasy” by the Nusra Front. The same day, the journalist’s family received a letter from Darulqadaa saying al-Qasim had been killed by an unknown “group on the ground,” the journalist’s childhood friend, Hassan al-Aadeen, told CPJ.

Al-Aadeen told CPJ that al-Qasim’s family did not believe the claim made in the letter. “How is it possible that the court knows he is dead, but don’t know who killed him? We strongly believe Nusra gave the orders [for his murder],” he said.

A spokesman for Aleppo News Network who declined to be named due to the sensitivities of the case, told CPJ there was no proof as to who was holding al-Qasim and that the network could not discount the Darulqadaa account that al-Qasim was released the same day he was detained at the checkpoint, but was immediately taken hostage by an unknown group.

The Aleppo Press Union, an opposition body representing journalists across the province, rejected the narrative from the unofficial court that al-Qassim had been detained by another group and, in a statement, said the court run by Nusra Front was responsible for al-Qasim’s death.

The parents of al-Qasim never received al-Qassim’s body, despite their pleas documented in a YouTube video uploaded by the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

2013

MEXICO: 1

Sergio Landa Rosado, Diario Cardel, January 23, 2013, Veracruz

Landa, who covers the crime beat for the local daily Diario Cardel, disappeared while working in the city of Cardel on January 23, according to local news reports and Diario Cardel. The newspaper reported his disappearance two days later and his wife filed a report with authorities the following week, but the case only came to the attention of the national media three months later.

On the day of his disappearance, Landa went to the Diario Cardel newsroom and, a few hours later, told another reporter he had to check on something and that he would be right back, the reporter said. He has not been seen since.

That was the first time Landa had gone to the Diario Cardel newsroom since his previous abduction in early December 2012, his colleagues said. Journalists at Diario Cardel told CPJ that the day after reporting on the murder of a taxi driver, two SUVs and a car with men carrying assault rifles came to the newspaper office and took Landa away. The police and a Navy unit gave pursuit, but Landa somehow escaped, although it was not clear exactly how, the reporters said.

Landa's kidnappers told him while he was being held that he was going to be killed for writing the story about the cab driver, according to the journalist's colleagues and his wife, Isabel. A fellow reporter, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, told CPJ that the armed men also told Landa that the story was the kind that might elicit too much attention.

Another reporter in Cardel said that an organized crime group had moved into the area and was kidnapping and extorting, but did not want its actions covered in the press. The reporter said he thought the murdered cab driver had probably not paid an extortion demand.

After being abducted in December, Landa fled Cardel for a distant city in Veracruz, where he worked for a newspaper affiliated with Diario Cardel, his wife said. He returned home a few weeks later, but stayed in hiding in Cardel until the day of his disappearance.

2012

SYRIA: 3

Austin Tice, freelance, August 13, 2012

Tice, a U.S. freelance photojournalist who contributed to The Washington Post, McClatchy, Al-Jazeera English, and several other news outlets, went missing in mid-August 2012, according to news reports. He was last heard from on August 13, 2012, according to his family’s website.

In 2014, a State Department official told CPJ that they were working to determine Tice’s status and whereabouts. Previously, the Czech Republic’s ambassador said that Austin may be detained by the Syrian government. The Syrian government has denied holding Tice, according to news reports citing his family.

The first public sign of Tice's condition appeared in a YouTube video posted on September 26, 2012. In the 47-second clip, a group of turbaned men shout "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and push Tice to his knees. Several analysts and news reports suggested that the scenes in the video were staged, and that the segment had been shot to promote a view that Islamic extremist groups were behind the unrest in Syria.

The Tice family said in a statement on their website on May 30, 2013, that they have not had any contact with Austin or his captors and "do not know with certainty who is holding him captive."

Mohamed al-Saeed, Syrian State TV, July 19, 2012, Damascus

Mohamed al-Saeed, a presenter for Syrian state television, was kidnapped in Damascus, according to news reports. Al-Nusra Front, an armed Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed in a statement, to have beheaded al-Saeed on August 4, news reports said. No news organization or other source, however, independently confirmed his death. Al-Saeed hosted a daily show called "Hadith al-Balad" (Talk of the Country) for the state broadcaster, news reports said.

Bashar Fahmi, Al-Hurra, August 20, 2012, Aleppo

Fahmi, a reporter for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra and a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin, and his colleague Cüneyt Ünal, a Turkish cameraman for the broadcaster, were reported missing while covering events in the northwestern city of Aleppo on August 20.

Six days later, Ünal appeared in a video, saying he had been taken captive while reporting in Syria. He did not explicitly name his captors, although the video appeared on a pro-government television channel, and he made no mention of Fahmi. Ünal is believed to be held in government custody.

No further information is known about Fahmi’s whereabouts or condition.

MEXICO: 1

Miguel Morales Estrada, Diario de Poza Rica and Tribuna Papanteca, July 19, 2012, Poza Rica, Veracruz

Morales, a crime photojournalist for the daily Diario de Poza Rica and a freelancer for the newspaper Tribuna Papanteca in the town of Papantla in Veracruz state, was last seen by his wife in the city of Poza Rica, news reports said. He disappeared after telling staff at Diario de Poza Rica that he needed to get out of the city "for personal reasons," according to a statement from the Veracruz attorney general's office.

Morales' wife filed a complaint with the Veracruz state prosecutor on July 23, according to news reports. Authorities said they launched an investigation into the reporter's disappearance, news reports said.

Local journalists told CPJ that Morales' disappearance had heightened fear among the Veracruz press corps.

2011

MEXICO: 2

Marco Antonio López Ortiz, Novedades Acapulco, June 7, 2011, Acapulco

The daily newspaper Novedades Acapulco reported on June 9 that López, its news editor, had been abducted by a group of men two nights earlier. López's supervisor, Armando Robles, told CPJ that when López did not arrive at the paper the day before, a group of reporters began to retrace his movements. The editor left work at 10:30 p.m. the night of the 7th and then went to visit his godfather at his home, leaving the house around 11:30 p.m., Robles said.

Witnesses told Robles that a group of men assaulted López as he crossed a street. People gathered at a corner taco stand said they thought they were witnessing a robbery, "but the men took him away. We don't know why." Robles said.

Among other responsibilities, López, 42, managed the paper's coverage of crime. Journalists in Acapulco told CPJ that they are under constant threat by organized crime groups to keep coverage to a minimum.

Robles said the paper’s crime stories are cautious and limited, with details almost always constrained to what the police release officially, as the staff hopes to avoid angering crime cartels that are fighting for control of Acapulco. "We don't investigate," Robles said. Publishing more in-depth information could make them targets.

In October, the editor’s sister Rosa Isela López Ortiz told the local newspaper La Jornada Guerrero that the state prosecutor’s office had taken a DNA sample from López’s father to see if the missing journalist was among any of the unidentified bodies that have turned up in the region, but that there was no match. Beyond that, she said, the family has received zero communication from authorities regarding the investigation. All the family wants, she told the newspaper, is for López to be returned to them, in whatever condition. “We’re hoping that they’ll give him back to us soon in any way, alive or dead -- we just want to know where he is.”

Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, El Mañanero, September 17, 2011, Acayucán

Fonseca was last seen leaving his house in Acayucán, Veracruz state, to cover an event for the daily El Mañanero on September 17, according to local news reports. He has not been heard from since. Relatives of the Mexican journalist first reported him missing on September 21, police records show.

Fonseca, 18, covered the police beat for El Mañanero. Federal authorities said the local police in this region are widely controlled by organized crime groups, news reports said. Many journalists tailor their reporting so as to not offend crime bosses or political allies, local journalists told CPJ.

Journalists said they have not been able to reach Fonseca on his cell phone, news reports said. One journalist told the police that she received a garbled text message from Fonseca’s number, but was not able to reach him when she tried calling.

Sources told CPJ that Fonseca’s disappearance is deepening the fear in Veracruz where four journalists have already been killed so far this year. Many journalists have fled or gone into hiding, CPJ research shows.

2010

MEXICO: 3

Miguel Angel Domínguez Zamora, El Mañana, March 2010, Reynosa
Pedro Argüello, El Mañana and La Tarde, March 2010, Reynosa


Domínguez and Argüello, reporters with El Mañana newspaper group in the Mexican city of Reynosa, near the Texas border, went missing during a wave of drug violence in the border city that endangered the local media, according to press reports and CPJ interviews.

Coming amid a series of violent confrontations between the Zetas and the Gulf cartel, the abductions sowed even greater fear in the local press corps, which was already practicing widespread self-censorship. Colleagues said the missing journalists could have done something to anger either the Gulf cartel or the Zetas or somehow gotten caught in the warfare between the groups. Authorities provided very little information on the seizures.

A third reporter for the newspaper group, David Silva, was also reported missing at the time. Silva reappeared months later, according to reports from several journalists, although the circumstances of his disappearance remained unclear.

Ramón Ángeles Zalpa, Cambio de Michoacán, April 6, 2010, Paracho

Ángeles, a part-time correspondent for the newspaper Cambio de Michoacán, was last seen leaving home to go to the National University of Pedagogy, where he worked as a professor, his son, Rommell David Ángeles Méndez, told CPJ.

Juan Ignacio Salazar, chief of correspondents for the Morelia-based Cambio de Michoacán, told CPJ that Ángeles was a general assignment reporter who did not routinely cover sensitive stories. In March 2010, however, Ángeles covered an armed attack on a local indigenous family, Salazar said. The journalist did not report receiving any threats, he said.

Ángeles’ son told CPJ that the journalist received an anonymous phone call two days before he vanished, but he said that his father did not disclose details of the call. “We don’t know what happened,” Ángeles’ son said. “My father never mentioned having any enemies or fear. He just vanished.” Federal and state investigators said a missing-person investigation was ongoing. No leads have been disclosed.

SRI LANKA: 1

Prageeth Eknelygoda, Lanka eNews
January 24, 2010, Colombo

Eknelygoda, a cartoonist and columnist for the online news outlet, was last seen by his wife and two teenage sons as he left his house for work two days before the presidential elections that gave the incumbent President Mahindra Rajapaksa a sweeping victory.

Though the case was transferred from local police to the Colombo Crimes Division, no progress was reported. The journalist’s wife, Sandhya, told CPJ she was unable to persuade police or other officials to actively investigate the case; a complaint she brought before the Human Rights Court also proved fruitless.

The staff of Lanka eNews, which had opposed Rajapaksa’s government, faced harsh intimidation over all; its editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, went into exile in March 2010. In the ensuing months, Eknelygoda’s unexplained disappearance sent a chill through the entire Sri Lankan press corps, which had faced other severe instances of violence and intimidation.

UKRAINE: 1

Vasyl Klymentyev, Novyi Stil, August 11, 2010, Kharkiv

Klymentyev, chief editor of the independent weekly Novyi Stil, was last seen leaving his home in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, with an unknown man driving a BMW, local press reports said. His girlfriend reported him missing to police.

On August 18, Kharkiv police said in a statement that Klymentyev’s cell phone had been found in a boat at a nearby lake. Police divers did not find the journalist’s body in the lake, local press reports said.

Klymentyev’s deputy, Petr Matviyenko, told the Ukrainian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he and Klymentyev had photographed what he described as lavish homes belonging to local officials just two days before the disappearance.

Novyi Stil specialized in reporting on corruption in local government and law enforcement, RFE/RL reported. Matviyenko told RFE/RL that Klymentyev’s recent articles had criticized a local prosecutor and the head of the region’s fiscal police. Ukrainian press reports said Novyi Stil ceased publishing in mid-October.

2009

MEXICO: 1

María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, El Diario de Zamora and Cambio de Michoacán. November 11, 2009, Zamora

Aguilar, 32, a veteran reporter and mother of two, was last seen leaving her home in Zamora, in the central state of Michoacán, after receiving a cell phone call, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. State and federal authorities have not disclosed any leads or suspects in the case.

Aguilar reported for regional news outlets, including the Zamora-based daily El Diario de Zamora and the regional daily Cambio de Michoacán. While her coverage varied, she tended to focus on organized crime and local corruption. In the weeks before she vanished, Aguilar’s reporting highlighted police abuse allegations, the military’s anti-cartel efforts, and the arrest in Zamora of at least three individuals, including a politician’s son, on suspicion of collusion with organized crime groups. On October 27, her story on local police abuse was followed by the resignation of a high-ranking official. Soon after that piece ran, she reported on the arrest of a reputed local leader of the cartel La Familia Michoacana.

Aware of possible reprisals, Aguilar did not include her byline on many risky stories, colleagues told CPJ. She did not mention receiving threats before her disappearance, they said.

Her husband, David Silva, told CPJ that the influence of the cartels in Zamora was so strong he did not have faith in police to determine what happened. “With most of the police here you don’t know who you’re talking to—a detective or a representative of organized crime,” he said.

2007

KAZAKHSTAN: 1

Oralgaisha Omarshanova (Zhabagtaikyzy), Zakon i Pravosudiye, March 30, 2007, Almaty

Omarshanova, the 39-year-old investigative reporter for the Astana-based independent weekly Zakon i Pravosudiye (Law and Justice) was last seen in Kazakhstan's financial capital, Almaty, where she was on a business trip with several colleagues. Her colleagues said they last saw her on the afternoon of March 30 getting into a jeep, the Moscow-based news agency Regnum reported. Omarshanova directed the paper's anti-corruption department.

Four days before her disappearance, Omarshanova had published an article in Zakon i Pravosudiye about ethnic clashes between rival Chechen and Kazakh residents in the Almaty region villages of Kazatkom and Malovodnoye. The clashes, which took place on March 17 and 18, claimed at least five lives, according to local and international news reports. In her article, Omarshanova identified the instigators of the unrest and mentioned their alleged connection to the government and local businesses, the Almaty-based press freedom group Adil Soz reported.

In February, the paper published an investigative report by Omarshanova that exposed the dangerous working conditions of miners in the central city of Zhezkazgan, according to international news reports.

At a press conference in Almaty on April 11, the journalist's brother, Zhanat Omarshanov, told reporters that in the weeks prior to her disappearance, Omarshanova had received several death threats by telephone warning her to stop her reporting, Regnum reported.

During the press conference, Zakon i Pravosudiye reporterMukhit Iskakov said Omarshanova told him she had purchased a rifle to defend herself after receiving the threats, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

On September 10, at a press conference organized by Adil Soz and the Union of Journalists of Kazakhstan, Interior Ministry Lieutenant Colonel Baltabek Kuanyshev, who is in charge of the investigation, told journalists that Omarshanova's disappearance seems not to be connected to her professional activities. Kuanyshev said Omarshanova may be alive but forcibly kept in captivity by criminals. He did not explain the substance behind these conclusions, though.

Oralgaisha Omarshanova is also known by her pen name, Oralgaisha Zhabagtaikyzy.

MEXICO: 2

Gamaliel López Candanosa, TV Azteca Noreste, May 10, 2007, Monterrey
Gerardo Paredes Pérez, TV Azteca Noreste, May 10, 2007, Monterrey

Reporter López and camera operator Paredes vanished after covering the birth of conjoined twins at a hospital in the northern city of Monterrey. They were last heard from about 4 p.m., when they checked in with their station, a regional affiliate of the national TV Azteca, according to Mexican press reports.

Their Chevrolet compact, bearing the TV Azteca logo, also disappeared, according to press reports and CPJ interviews. Neither journalist had reported any prior threats, according to the state prosecutor’s office in Nuevo León.

Soon after the disappearance, then-state prosecutor Luis Carlos Treviño Berchelman told local reporters that López had ties to the Zetas criminal group, an assertion that TV Azteca denied. At the time of the disappearances, cartel-related violence was escalating in Monterrey, with groups such as the Zetas engaging in public violence.

2006

MEXICO: 2

Rafael Ortiz Martínez, Zócalo and XHCCG, July 8, 2006, Monclava

Ortiz, a reporter for the Monclova-based daily Zócalo and host of the morning news program "Radio Zócalo" on XHCCG, was last seen leaving the newspaper's offices in a red car at 1:30 a.m. on July 8. Sergio Cisneros, Zócalo's editor, said Ortiz had been editing material for a radio show the next morning.

A Zócalo company car arrived at 6 a.m. on July 9 to pick up Ortiz, but the journalist was not home. His father, Rafael Ortiz del Toro, reported the disappearance to the Coahuila state prosecutor on the morning of July 10.

No one heard from Ortiz since, and there were no signs of the car in which he was last seen, Cohauila Police Lt. Aurelio Masías told CPJ. Masías said the investigation had no concrete leads but police were focusing on Ortiz's work.

Ortiz had reported on the prevalence of prostitution in Monclova, the resulting spread of HIV/AIDS, and its effect on families.

José Antonio García Apac, Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec, November 20, 2006, Morelia

García Apac, editor of the weekly paper Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec, has been missing since November 20, 2006. That evening, he pulled over to call his family on his way home on a highway in the central state of Michoacán. The 55-year-old father of six has not been seen since.

As García was driving home to Morelia, the state capital, he stopped to call his family. While on the phone with his son, García was overheard responding to several men who asked his identity, family members told CPJ. The assailants then ordered the journalist to hang up the phone. Sounds of García being dragged away were heard before the line went dead.

García, nicknamed "El Chino," reported regularly on organized crime in Michoacán. His wife Rosa Isela Caballero told CPJ that in February 2006, García compiled a list of Michoacán state officials, including police officers, who he believed were linked to criminal groups. He took the list to his sources in Mexico City's federal anti-organized crime squad for corroboration. According to Caballero, colleagues believe this may have played a role in García's disappearance.

Caballero has demanded a thorough investigation of her husband's disappearance, but the authorities say they have no leads to follow, she told CPJ.

Despite García's absence, Ecos de la Cuenca en Tepalcatepec still circulates on a bimonthly basis. Caballero now oversees the newspaper. A passport-size photo of García, with a caption demanding that his case be solved is featured on the upper right-hand side of each issue.

2005

INDONESIA: 1

Elyuddin Telaumbanua, Berita Sore, August 17, 2005, Nias

Telaumbanua, a journalist with the daily Berita Sore, was reported missing on the island of Nias off the northwestern coast of Sumatra on August 22.

Telaumbanua left his home in the northern town of Gunungsitoli on August 17 for a reporting trip, promising to return home after several days, according to his wife. An editor for Berita Sore told local reporters that Telaumbanua may have disappeared while reporting on a murder in the island's southern Teluk Daram district. Telaumbanua, 51, had also recently reported on criminal gangs, local corruption, and irregularities in recent local elections, sources told CPJ.

Ukuran Maruhawa, a journalist traveling home with Telaumbanua, said that the two were ambushed on August 22 by a group of six men riding three motorcycles who forcibly took Telaumbanua away, The Jakarta Post reported. Local journalists told CPJ that they fear Telaumbanua is dead. Citing unnamed witnesses, Berita Sore reported that the journalist was beaten and killed by gangsters on August 24.

Journalists and family members have protested to police and lawmakers, urging them to find those responsible for his disappearance. Hundreds of journalists gathered in Medan in northern Sumatra on September 15 to protest the ongoing delays in the investigation.

MEXICO: 1

Alfredo Jiménez Mota, El Imparcial, April 2, 2005, Hermosillo

Jiménez, a crime reporter for the Hermosillo-based daily, disappeared from his home in the city of Hermosillo in the northwestern state of Sonora at about 9 p.m. on April 2. That night, he called a colleague at El Imparcial to say that he was going to meet with one of his contacts, according to Juan F. Healy, president and general director of the daily. Jiménez told his colleague that the contact was "very nervous." No one has heard from Jiménez since that call.

Jiménez, 25, lives alone in Hermosillo and has been working with El Imparcial for the last six months. Police said that no belongings were taken and nothing was disturbed.

Recent articles of Jiménez have investigated drug-trafficking families in the region. Sonora prosecutors have linked his disappearance with his journalistic work.

According to CPJ's recent research, Mexico's northern states have become one of the most hazardous places in Latin America for journalists to practice their profession. Journalists like Jiménez, who cover crime and drug trafficking, are particularly vulnerable.

2004

IRAQ: 1

Isam al-Shumari, Sudost Media, August 15, 2004, Fallujah

Al-Shumari, a cameraman for Sudost Media, a small production company that provides footage to Germany's N24 television, is believed to have disappeared in Fallujah on August 15. His disappearance came the same day his friend, cameraman Mahmoud Abbas, who was working with the German television station ZDF, was killed while on assignment. Al-Shumari's relatives told an N24 journalist in Baghdad that he had traveled to Fallujah with Abbas on August 15. Although al-Shumari was not on assignment for Sudost Media or N24, he may have been assisting his friend, Abbas, with his work. CPJ is currently seeking more information about his disappearance.

IVORY COAST: 1

Guy-André Kieffer, freelance, April 16, 2004, Abidjan

Kieffer, one of the few foreign investigative reporters still based in Ivory Coast, was last seen on April 16, according to local and international press reports. In the weeks prior to his disappearance, Kieffer received death threats, according to his family and friends, who fear that he has been killed. The journalist has both French and Canadian citizenship.

Since then his cell phone has been switched off, and his family has not heard from him. Unconfirmed reports in the opposition press have suggested that members of the security forces abducted and killed Kieffer. Reports that the tortured corpse of a white man was seen in Azaguié, near Abidjan, also remain unconfirmed.

The missing journalist is also a commodities consultant who specializes in the Ivory Coast's lucrative cocoa and coffee sectors for a company that had contracts with the government. He had conducted numerous investigations in these sectors, including exposing corruption. His freelance work included contributions to the Paris-based African business newsletter Lettre du Continent.

On May 25, Michel Legré, a brother-in-law of Ivory Coast's first lady, was detained in the commercial capital, Abidjan, and formally charged as an accessory in the kidnapping, confinement, and murder of Kieffer, according to international news reports. According to local press reports, Kieffer, was on his way to meet Legré when he disappeared.

A French judicial inquiry has been under way since May 3, after Kieffer's wife filed a complaint in a Paris court. France and Ivory Coast have a bilateral treaty on judicial cooperation dating back to Ivorian independence in 1960.

In the days before he was detained, Legré testified for 10 hours before a French investigating judge and blamed people close to the Ivorian government for Kieffer's disappearance, according to local and international press reports. On May 21, the French judge, Patrick Ramael, complained to the Ivorian state prosecutor that he has been unable to question the government officials that Legré implicated and asked the prosecutor to intervene.

While the government has charged Legré with being an accessory to murder, Kieffer's body has not been recovered, and the government has yet to present evidence that he was killed.

2003

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 1

Acquitté Kisembo, Agence France-Presse, June 26, 2003, Bunia

Kisembo, a 28 year-old medical student who was recruited by Agence France-Presse (AFP) to work as a fixer in the northeastern Ituri region, a notoriously dangerous and unstable area, was reported missing in Bunia, Ituri's main town. The last person to report seeing Kisembo alive was Anthony Morland, an AFP journalist who was working with him.

Local journalists believe that Kisembo was abducted by militiamen loyal to the rebel Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), which controlled Bunia until it was dislodged by a French-led international peacekeeping force earlier in June. Reports suggest that there was UPC resentment at locals perceived to be collaborating with the foreign presence in Bunia. However, the reasons behind Kisembo's disappearance remain unclear.

According to Morland, Kisembo was first hired as a general fixer, but later was given some reporting duties. On the day he disappeared, Kisembo had been assigned to interview displaced people returning to Bunia.

At the time Kisembo was reported missing, Ituri was emerging from several years of bloodletting, violence, and ethnic conflict, spurred by the region's richness in natural resources. According to journalists who have visited Ituri, disappearances, arbitrary killings, and other severe human rights abuses were all common in Ituri at the time.

Morland told CPJ that he had investigated Kisembo's disappearance and was unable to locate any independent witnesses. UPC leader Thomas Lubanga told AFP that Kisembo was killed by militia from a rival ethnic militia, but was unable to substantiate the allegation, according to Morland.

On the evening before his disappearance, Kisembo was threatened by men outside houses occupied by the UPC, Morland said. At the time, he was with a group of international journalists watching the departure from Bunia of the last UPC gunmen, in line with an ultimatum issued by the peacekeeping force.

Kinshasa-based press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) told CPJ that Kisembo was believed to have been assassinated by his kidnappers.

EGYPT: 1

Reda Helal, Al-Ahram, August 11, 2003, Cairo

Helal, an editor with Egypt's semiofficial daily Al-Ahram, has been missing since August 11, 2003. Helal, considered controversial by some because of his outspoken support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, was last seen entering his home in the capital, Cairo, on the afternoon he disappeared. Local journalists say there is little evidence pointing to who kidnapped him, or if he was even kidnapped. CPJ continues to investigate the case.


IRAQ: 1

Fred Nerac, ITV News, March 22, 2003, Iman Anas

On March 22, veteran ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd, cameraman Nerac, and translator Hussein Othman came under fire while driving to the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The journalists were not embedded with military forces.

The three men, along with cameraman Daniel Demoustier, were traveling in two marked press vehicles in the town of Iman Anas, near Al-Zubayr, when they came under fire, ITN reported. According to Demoustier, the car he and Lloyd had been driving had been pursued by Iraqi troops who may have been attempting to surrender to the journalists. Demoustier reported that the incoming fire to their vehicles likely came from U.S. or British forces in the area.

Demoustier, who was injured when the car he was driving crashed into a ditch and caught fire, managed to escape. He said he did not see what happened to Lloyd, who was seated next to him, or to the other crew members. Lloyd's body was recovered in a hospital in Basra days later.

An investigative article published in the Wall Street Journal in May indicated that Lloyd's SUV and another vehicle belonging to his colleagues came under fire from U.S. Marines. The article cited accounts from U.S. troops who recalled opening fire on cars marked "TV." Soldiers also said they believed that Iraqi suicide bombers were using the cars to attack U.S. troops.

The Journal article cited a report from a British security firm commissioned by ITN to investigate the incident saying that Lloyd's car was hit by both coalition and Iraqi fire; the latter most likely came from behind the car, possibly after the vehicle had crashed.

The report concluded that "[t]he Iraqis no doubt mounted an attack using the ITN crew as cover, or perhaps stumbled into the U.S. forces whilst attempting to detain the ITN crew." The report also speculated that Nerac and Othman, who were last seen by Demoustier in another car being stopped by Iraqi forces--might have been pulled out of their car before it came under fire from coalition forces, and then Iraqi forces used the SUV to attack the coalition forces.

In April, Nerac's wife approached U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell at a NATO press conference, and he promised to do everything in his power to find out what had happened to the missing men. In late May, Centcom said that it was investigating the incident, while the British Ministry of Defense promised to open an inquiry. Neither had made public any results as of October.

In September, London's The Daily Mirror newspaper reported the testimony of an Iraqi man named Hamid Aglan who had allegedly tried to rescue the wounded Lloyd in a civilian minibus. Aglan told the newspaper that he had picked up a lightly wounded Lloyd, who had suffered only a shoulder injury, and attempted to take him to hospital in Basra when the minibus came under fire from a U.S. helicopter, killing Lloyd. The paper reported that the bus was also carrying wounded Iraqi soldiers.

An ITN spokesperson told CPJ that a number of elements of Aglan's story are not consistent with ITN's own investigation. She said an autopsy revealed that Lloyd had suffered two serious wounds that likely resulted from Iraqi and U.S. fire. She said that after he was wounded, an Iraqi civilian in a minibus had picked up Lloyd and tried to take him to a hospital in Basra. The minibus later came under U.S. attack. "It was a gunshot to the bus and [Terry] was probably in the bus," she said. ITN investigators believe that either wound that Lloyd sustained would have been fatal.

According to ITV, when the journalists disappeared, Nerac was wearing three press cards--one American and two Kuwaiti--containing his name and photo. He had on a blue Gortex jacket, khaki trousers, thick Gortex shoes, and a silver watch. He has dark brown hair and gold-colored, round-rimmed glasses. Nerac has a fairly recent scar (about 2 inches [4 to 5 centimeters] long) on one side of his buttocks.

Othman was also wearing three press cards--one American and two Kuwaiti--containing his name and photo, said ITV. He was dressed in dark-colored, casual clothes. Othman is 5 feet 6 inches (1.70 meters) tall, with a medium build and short, thinning, dark hair.

RUSSIA: 1

Ali Astamirov, Agence France-Presse, July 4, 2003, Ingushetia, Russia

Astamirov, a 34-year-old correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, was abducted on July 4 by unknown armed assailants in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia.

Astamirov, who is married and has two children, previously worked for Chechnya's Grozny Television. He was based in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran, and had worked for AFP for more than a year. He reported on politically sensitive issues, primarily the conflict in Chechnya and the plight of Chechen refuges in neighboring Ingushetia.

The journalist was kidnapped while he and two colleagues, humanitarian worker Ruslan Musayev and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) stringer Aslambek Dadayev, were driving through Nazran and stopped for gas.

A white vehicle blocked the car, and three armed men in camouflage attire--two of whom were wearing masks--seized the journalists' cell phones, pulled Astamirov out of the car, and drove off in the direction of Chechnya.

Russian law enforcement authorities launched a criminal investigation into the incident but have not reported any progress.

Astamirov's fate remains unknown, and the abductors have not contacted the journalist's family or AFP with demands.

According to AFP, Astamirov had received telephone threats in the months prior to his abduction and had moved to a different house because he feared for his safety. On July 24, AFP reported that a reliable source in Chechnya told the news agency that the journalist was still alive and that he was being held in Chechnya. The source provided no further details.

1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 1

Belmonde Magloire Missinhoun, Le Point Congo, October 3, 1998, Kinshasa

Missinhoun, a citizen of Benin and owner of the independent financial newspaper La Pointe Congo, has not been seen since he was arrested after a traffic accident with a military vehicle in the capital, Kinshasa. Police investigations into the journalist's disappearance have yielded no results.

Missinhoun had lived in Kinshasa for approximately 30 years. La Pointe Congo has not published since the regime of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko fell in 1997. It is feared that the journalist, who had close ties to the Mobutu government, was killed.

In March 2003, Congolese sources told CPJ that no one has received any information about Missinhoun since his disappearance. Local sources said they saw the journalist's jeep re-painted in army colors after his arrest, and that they suspect he was killed.

RWANDA: 1

Emmanuel Munyemanzi, Rwandan National Television, May 2, 1998, Kigali

Munyemanzi, head of production services at Rwandan National Television, disappeared on his way home from work in the capital, Kigali. Two months before his disappearance, the director of the Rwanda Information Office (Orinfor) accused the journalist of sabotage because of a technical problem that had occurred during the taping of a political debate. Munyemanzi was then suspended from his job and transferred to Orinfor's Studies and Programs Bureau.

In March 2003, one source told CPJ that the journalist's body was recovered shortly after he disappeared. CPJ was unable to confirm this report.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO: 1

Djuro Slavuj, Radio Pristina, August 21, 1998, Orahovac

Slavuj, a reporter at the state-run Radio Pristina, and Ranko Perenic, his driver, disappeared while on assignment in Kosovo. They were last seen in the town of Orahovac, where they had left by car to travel to Malisevo to report on strife in the area. Milivoje Mihajlovic, Slavuj's editor, as well as Serbian officials and nongovernmental organizations, believe that fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army captured the two. They were the first ethnic Serbs working for the media reported missing during the Kosovo conflict of 1999.

1997

FRENCH POLYNESIA: 1

Jean-Pascal Couraud, Les Nouvelles, December 15, 1997, Tahiti

The journalist’s friends and family fought for years to debunk the notion that Couraud, 37, had committed suicide. A committee created by his friends in 2004 to investigate the case believed the disappearance was the work of the Groupe d'intervention de Polynésie, or GIP, a militia created in the 1990s by President Gaston Flosse and later disbanded in 2006.

Couraud, who used “JPK” as his byline, worked as editor-in-chief of the French-language daily Les Nouvelles de Tahiti where, until his dismissal in 1988, he investigated the political and financial deals of the local government and published critical stories about Flosse. Later as an assistant to a member of the opposition, he continued his investigations, making many enemies among the local power elite. Prior to his disappearance, he was working as a press attaché.

In 2004, Vetea Guilloux, a member of the GIP, told an investigating judge that he had been ordered to spy on JPK on behalf of the Service d’études et de documentation, an intelligence unit under the authority of President Flosse. Guilloux alleged that two GIP colleagues had killed Courad. He soon retracted his claim, apparently fearing retaliation.

Courad’s family filed a subsequent complaint to keep the case alive. In 2013, amid the investigation, Guilloux restated his initial accusations to Jean-François Redonnet, a judge in the capital, and provided details on what happened on the night of the disappearance. Guilloux said GIP members seized the journalist, forced him on a small boat, interrogated him, and “accidentally” drowned him.

Couraud’s body was never found. According to a Le Monde article published in March 2013, Guilloux’s testimony has been backed up by other witnesses. On June 25, 2013, Redonnet indicted Tino Mara and Tutu Manate, two members of the GIP for “the abduction, sequestration, and murder” of the journalist.

1996

RUSSIA: 3

Vitaly Shevchenko, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny
Andrei Bazvluk, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny
Yelena Petrova, Lita-M, Chechnya, August 11, 1996, Grozny

Shevchenko and Bazvluk, journalists from Lita-M, a small television company in Kharkhiv, Ukraine, were reported missing by their colleagues in early September 1996. Fellow correspondents last saw the pair on August 11 in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, during heavy fighting between Russian federal troops and Chechen fighters who had seized control of the city on August 6. Shevchenko and Bazvluk had reportedly traveled from their native Ukraine to Chechnya to cover the conflict. A third journalist, Yelena Petrova, a senior executive of Lita-M, was also believed to be missing. She did not contact her studio after mid-August, according to a colleague.

A representative of the Kharkiv Committee for Human Rights Protection told CPJ in March 2003 that the Lita-M television company no longer exists, and that the three are still missing. He also said that Shevchenko and Bazvluk were members of the ultranationalist Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense party. Other sources reported that the three were representatives of civic organizations and were involved in humanitarian work, making it unclear whether they were in Chechnya working as journalists.

1995

RUSSIA: 3

Maksim Shabalin, Nevskoye Vremya, February 1995, Chechnya
Feliks Titov, Nevskoye Vremya, February 1995, Chechnya

Shabalin, assistant political editor of the St. Petersburg daily Nevskoye Vremya, and Titov, a photographer for the paper, were reported missing in Chechnya. They left Nazran on February 27, 1995, for their fifth trip to the breakaway republic since fighting there began in 1992.

According Nevskoye Vremya staff, the journalists were due back on March 4 but have not been heard from since and are presumed dead. Shabalin and Titov may not have had official accreditation from Russian authorities to enter Chechnya.

Colleagues at Nevskoye Vremya heard in September 1995 that the bodies of two journalists had been found in February 1995 in the Achoi Region of the republic. However, there were no documents or photographs confirming the bodies' identities. On June 16, 1995, Nevskoye Vremya correspondent Sergei Ivanov traveled to Chechnya to look for Shabalin and Titov, but he never returned and has not been heard from since.

Alla Manilova, editor-in-chief of Nevskoye Vremya, told CPJ in March 2003 that Shabalin, Titov, and Ivanov are still missing, and that she heard rumors in the mid-1990s that Chechen rebels had killed Shabalin and Titov.

Sergei Ivanov, Nevskoye Vremya, June 1995, Chechnya

Ivanov, a correspondent for the St. Petersburg daily Nevskoye Vremya, was last seen by his colleagues on June 16, 1995, when he left for Chechnya to look for Nevskoye Vremya journalists Maksim Shabalin and Feliks Titov, who had disappeared in February. By the end of 1995, Ivanov's colleagues had not heard from him, and they feared he was killed.

Alla Manilova, the editor-in-chief of Nevskoye Vremya, told CPJ in March 2003 that Shabalin, Titov, and Ivanov are still missing and that she heard rumors in the mid-1990s that Chechen rebels had killed Shabalin and Titov. She said that when Ivanov went to Chechnya to look for his colleages, the search team initially agreed not to split up, but Ivanov decided to go into the mountains on his own and was never heard from again.

RWANDA: 1

Manasse Mugabo, United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda Radio, August 19, 1995, Rwanda

Mugabo, director of the UNAMIR radio service, left Rwanda's capital, Kigali, to go on vacation to Uganda and has not been heard from since. CPJ has been unable to find information regarding the journalist's whereabouts.

1994

ALGERIA: 1

Mohamed Hassaine, Alger Républicain, March 1, 1994, Algiers

Hassaine, a reporter with the daily Alger Républicain, was kidnapped by unknown assailants. CPJ originally believed that Hassaine had been murdered based on his colleagues' reports of discovering Hassaine's decapitated body. But during interviews in the capital, Algiers, in October 1998, CPJ learned that Hassaine's body was in fact never found, and that there has been no evidence confirming his death.

1982

LEBANON: 1

Kazem Akhavan, IRNA, July 4, 1982, Byblos

Akhavan, a photographer for Iran's official news agency IRNA, and two officials from the Iranian Embassy in the capital, Beirut, were believed to have been kidnapped by Phalangist militiamen at a checkpoint near the northern city of Byblos and executed shortly after their abduction.

However, a March 18, 1998, story in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz raised suspicion that Israel may be holding the journalist. The story, written by Israeli journalist Josef al-Ghazi and based on information provided by the Israeli prison service, reported that three Iranian nationals were imprisoned in Israel at the time.

CPJ wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 15, 1998 requesting the names of the imprisoned Iranians but received no response.

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