Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi has been released more than a week after unidentified gunmen posing as members of the security forces stormed her home in the capital Baghdad and took her away.
“Thank God, I’m fine,” she told the local NRT satellite TV station late Tuesday, shortly after her release. “They just interrogated me and thank God they found me not guilty,” Shawqi added, without elaborating.
The reporter’s sister, Nibras, and the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) also confirmed on Tuesday that she had been freed.
On December 26, 2016, eight armed men dressed in plain clothes burst into the journalist’s home in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of al-Saidiya..
“They tied up her son and stole mobile phones, computers and cash before kidnapping Afrah and fleeing,” Ziad al-Ajili, the head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, said at the time.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi strongly condemned the 43-year-oldf journalist’s kidnapping, and ordered police to do their utmost to find her and track down the abductors.
Qaisi works for London-based and Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in addition to a number of news websites, including Aklaam. She is also an employee of the Culture Ministry She published an article prior to her abduction, leveling strident criticism against armed groups that “act with impunity” in Iraq. It was not known if she pointed to the affiliation of those armed groups.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has placed Iraq among the deadliest countries in the world for journalists and media staff. Foreign-backed terror groups, particularly Daesh militant outfit, mostly target civilian centers across the violence-wracked Arab country, particularly in Baghdad. Seven journalists lost their lives in Iraq in 2016, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has recently announced.—Agencies