News coverage of anti-government protests in Iraq has angered officials in the Middle Eastern country so much that they are beginning to expel some journalists.
Iraqi officials claim that CNN fabricated a report last week that government authorities fired guns into the air to break up a demonstration outside the Iraqi Information Ministry in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government is also upset that CNN has set up a news team in the northern part of the country, an area not controlled by Saddam Hussein.
According to Eason Jordan, president of newsgathering for CNN, the Iraqi claims are not valid.
“We’re not here to please or displease the Iraqi government or any government. We’re just trying to do our jobs the best we can,” he said.
Regardless of what Jordan said, however, some CNN journalists have been told that they must leave Iraq. Among these are Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf and correspondents Nic Robertson and Rym Brahimi.
CNN is not the only network that has been affected by the Iraqi demands. NBC’s Ned Colt and ABC’s David Wright have both been told to leave.
Not all networks have been affected by the demands, however. CBS News has reportedly not been told to remove any of its correspondents and neither has the BBC. Iraqis working for foreign news organizations are also allowed to stay in the country.
Iraqi officials have also set limits on the number of journalists allowed in the country. According to Jordan, when foreign journalists are allowed back in the country, each news organization will be limited to one non-Iraqi journalist and the maximum amount of time they are allowed to stay in the country is ten days.
The duration of the expulsion is not known. Jordan said that expulsions are not unusual and that, in the past, they have lasted anywhere from days to months.