The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Media blackout in Najaf enforced at rifle-point, journalists evicted

by Jon Elmer

Aug. 16, 2004 – Iraqi police officers enforced at rifle-point an order from the US-appointed interim government to remove all journalists - foreign and local - from Najaf, as American forces ratcheted up their offensive on the Shi'ite holy city on Sunday.

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Police officers arrived at a Najaf hotel housing journalists and demanded they leave the city at once or face arrest. "You've got two hours to leave or we are going to open fire at you. It's just our orders," an Iraqi police officer told London Times reporter Stephen Farrell.

Officers arrested an Iraqi reporter, Mohammad Kazem, during a live rooftop broadcast for Iranian state television, Al-Alam, after they fired warning shots into the air. The Daily Telegraph reports that as night fell and the deadline for the eviction order passed, bullets were fired at the roof of the hotel, the known site from which journalists frequently file their reports. Iraqi police had cited the reporters' own safety as the reason for the expulsion order.

Reporters embedded with US troops are now the only journalists allowed to correspond from Najaf.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Jon Elmer is a contributing journalist.

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