U.S. Condemns Death of Radio Free Iraq Journalist — Voice of America fails to report

BBG Watch Commentary

RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari

RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari

At her daily press briefing on Monday, March 24, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf read a statement  that the United States condemns the murder of Radio Free Iraq’s Baghdad Bureau Chief Mohammed Bdaiwi al-Shammari.

Ms. Harf read the statement at about 1:42 PM EDT Monday, March 24.

As of 2:10 AM EDT Tuesday, March 25, a search of the VOA main English news website and websites of most of VOA’s more than 40 language services has not produced any evidence of Voice of America reporting this news. VOA reported earlier that the journalist had been killed.

That Voice of America under its current dysfunctional leadership would fail to report on the official U.S. Government condemnation of the murder of a Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) colleague, Radio Free Iraq’s Baghdad Bureau Chief Mohammed Bdaiwi al-Shammari, is truly disturbing. It points a meltdown of editorial direction and news management for which only the senior executives can be blamed. They have failed as leaders of the organization and as managers of its new output on numerous occasions.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty had a report Monday on the official U.S. statement condemning the killing of Radio Free Iraq journalist. Radio Free Iraq operates under RFE/RL. Both VOA and RFE/RL are overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

Mon, Mar 24, 2014
Source: RFE/RL (USA)

BBG Chairman Jeff Shell issued a statement expressing sorrow and outrage at the killing of Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari and lauding the importance and danger of his profession:

“Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari was a committed journalist working to ensure that the people of Iraq received reliable, unbiased news,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “In so doing, he faced many risks, making this final and apparently random act of violence all the more difficult to bear. With a mixture of sorrow and outrage, we extend our condolences to this brave soul’s family, friends and colleagues, and we call on the government of Iraq to spare no effort to bring his killer to justice.”

BBG Watch had reported earlier on Chairman Shell’s statement. VOA had reported, but only briefly, on BBG Chairman’s statement. Monday, Voice of America failed to report on the official condemnation by the U.S. of the murder of Radio Free Iraq journalist.

 

 

Marie Harf

Marie Harf

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 24, 2014

TRANSCRIPT:

1:42 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: The United States condemns the murder of Radio Free Iraq’s Baghdad Bureau Chief Mohammed Bdaiwi al-Shammari, which occurred following a confrontation at a checkpoint in Baghdad on Sunday. We are deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding his death and we call on the Government of Iraq to conduct a full investigation into the incident and to hold the perpetrator of this criminal act to account. The killing of any innocent is to be deplored. The murder of a journalist is a particular affront because it strikes at a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Our understanding is that the case is now with the Iraqi judiciary, and we call on the Iraqi Government to ensure that the investigation is handled in a manner consistent with the constitutions and laws of Iraq. Mr. al-Shammari’s death is a major loss for the entire country of Iraq, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his families – to his family and to his colleagues.

Killing Of RFI Baghdad Bureau Chief Prompts Shock, Outrage Among BBG Board – BBG PRESS RELEASE

BBG Watch Commentary

BBG Watch extends its condolences to the family and colleagues of Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari. Journalists like him are making the ultimate sacrifice to deliver news from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) to audiences in some of the most dangerous areas of the world. This is a terrible loss for his family, friends and colleagues, RFE/RL, Radio Free Iraq (RFI), and independent journalism everywhere.

We note BBG Chairman Jeff Shell’s statement expressing sorrow and outrage at the killing of Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari and lauding the importance and danger of his profession:

“Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari was a committed journalist working to ensure that the people of Iraq received reliable, unbiased news,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “In so doing, he faced many risks, making this final and apparently random act of violence all the more difficult to bear. With a mixture of sorrow and outrage, we extend our condolences to this brave soul’s family, friends and colleagues, and we call on the government of Iraq to spare no effort to bring his killer to justice.”

After this tragedy, BBG Watch again calls on the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Administration to heed appeals from prominent members of the U.S. Congress and to reject the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff’s earlier misguided recommendation to shut down Radio Free Iraq and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Balkan Service.

We hope that the BBG will reaffirm its support to continue U.S. international media outreach to regions of great significance for the United States.

###

The following press release was issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

BBG PRESS RELEASE

Killing Of RFI Baghdad Bureau Chief Prompts Shock, Outrage Among BBG Board

MARCH 22, 2014

RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari

RFE/RL Baghdad Bureau Chief Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2014) — The senseless death today of the Baghdad bureau chief of RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq has shocked the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, who called for the immediate arrest of the Iraqi presidential guard accused in his shooting.

“Dr. Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari was a committed journalist working to ensure that the people of Iraq received reliable, unbiased news,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “In so doing, he faced many risks, making this final and apparently random act of violence all the more difficult to bear. With a mixture of sorrow and outrage, we extend our condolences to this brave soul’s family, friends and colleagues, and we call on the government of Iraq to spare no effort to bring his killer to justice.”

Witnesses say an Iraqi presidential guard shot Al-Shammari at the gate of the compound housing his office after the two men exchanged words over whose vehicle should pass through the checkpoint first. After the shooting, the officer fled.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met briefly with members of Al-Shammari’s family at the compound gate and promised them swift action.

Al-Shammari, 46, is survived by his wife and three children. He had been working for RFI since 2006 and became its Baghdad bureau chief in 2012. A journalist for two decades, he served on the editorial boards of several Iraqi media institutions and was an associate professor at Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.

He was the third RFI journalist to be shot dead since the service began broadcasting in 1998.

In a statement issued today, Nenad Pejic, editor in chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, called the incident “inexplicable” and a “profound loss.” RFE/RL, headquartered in Prague, operates and is the home base of Radio Free Iraq.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is the independent federal agency overseeing U.S. civilian international media, including Voice of America, RFE/RL, the Martis, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.​

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail