WASHINGTON, DC – The National Press Club urged the Nigerian government today to immediately release two Al Jazeera journalists who have been detained since March 24 for allegedly reporting on Boko Haram without “clearance.”
Reporter Ahmed Idris and producer Ali Mustafa were held in their hotel room after returning from covering Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram in Borno State. While military authorities said the two reporters were “operating without protection, accreditation or due clearance,” Al Jazeera stated the journalists were reporting with the cooperation of the military as part of the agency’s coverage of Nigeria’s presidential elections.
Nigeria is ranked 111th on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index. Journalists there have been arbitrarily arrested for doing their jobs and denied access to trials of members of Boko Haram.
“As Muhammadu Buhari is poised to take on the presidency from his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, the time is ripe for the Nigerian government to reset the press restrictions that have been enacted over the past few years,” said NPC President John Hughes. “To demonstrate its commitment to democracy, the Nigerian government should also release journalists such as Idris and Mustafa who are working to inform and educate its citizenry.”
According to Al Jazeera, Idris has worked for the news network since 2010 and has more than 30 years of journalistic experience. Mustafa has been a cameraman with the organization since 2011.
The National Press Club’s Press Freedom Committee speaks out on press freedom and transparency issues. The NPC, established in 1908 and based in Washington, D.C., is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists.