TF1 suspends sending of news crews to Iraq

22nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - France's top commercial television network TF1 said Wednesday it has stopped sending news teams to Iraq because of the risk of kidnappings.

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - France's top commercial television network TF1 said Wednesday it has stopped sending news teams to Iraq because of the risk of kidnappings.  

News director Robert Namias told RTL radio that his decision was temporary but sensible given the increased danger to journalists in Iraq, as shown by the abduction last month of two French reporters who remain in the hands of militants.  

"We have decided to not renew the teams going to Baghdad. When our team that is currently over there comes back, we will let a little time pass before sending another team," he said.  

The current team was due back at the end of this week, he said.   While "covering a war implies assuming a certain number of risks", the real possibility that a journalist might be abducted while reporting was excessive.  

"I don't want TF1 to fall into this trap," he said. Journalists are not "actors" in the war but only "witnesses".  

"Under these conditions, I am waiting a bit to see what happens. But, for the moment, I have taken the decision to not send any more teams," Namias said.  

TF1's nightly news bulletin is the most-watched in France.  

The channel's decision comes as the French government pursues discreet contacts to free the two abducted journalists, Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro reporter Georges Malbrunot, and their Syrian driver, Mohammed al-Jundi, all of whom were seized south of Baghdad August 20.  

Militants from an Al-Qaeda-linked group active in Iraq have over the past two days beheaded two US engineers involved in reconstruction work and threatened to mete out the same fate to a British co-worker they are also holding.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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