The Journalists Freedom Observatory (JFO) calls on the State of Law Alliance MP Muwafaq al-Rubaie to stop legal action against journalist Nabil Jasim, who started receiving threats by unknown people as a result of his criticism to the performance of MP Rubaie when he used to hold the position of national security adviser.
JFO is concerned about the safety of fellow Nabil Jassim, given the gravity of the accusations made by MP Rubaie against him during the past few days.
Mr. Nabil Jasim, in his talk show (More than a Dialogue) broadcasted on Dijla satellite TV channel, has criticized Rubaie's remarks in which he claimed that “the security forces managed to intercept suicide bombers and quantities of explosives coming from the United Arab Emirates in 2006.”
Jasim wondered during the show about the credibility of these statements, saying it came “late by al-Rubaie”, because it came after years of violence and terrorism, questioning the timing of such statement which took place the day after UAE Foreign Minister's comments, in which he criticized Iraq and the policy of governments in dealing with terrorism.
Nabil Jasim, who is a senior journalist, and works as faculty assistant professor in the College of Information of Baghdad University since 2003, told JFO “The lawsuit filed by MP Rubaie made me vulnerable to threats of assassination by unknown entities as it included accusation of me being a spy for a foreign country and this has resulted in direct threat against me.”
Nabil Jasim, who serves as managing director of Dijla TV, added “If Rubaie believes in the freedom of the press and expression, he could have used his right to reply, which is guaranteed to him, instead of harassing me and using the laws of Saddam era to prosecute me.”
Jasim is one of the journalists who have been exposed to the threats of terrorism by extremists, where he was told by Federal Police in 2013 that there is a plan for assassinating him by “Al Qaeda”, after the security authorities obtained confessions in that regard from members of the group who were arrested in Baghdad, which led Jasim to leave Iraq and live in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Husam al-Haj, Legal Counsel of JFO, said the criticism directed at the former national security adviser by political presenter Nabil Jasim cannot be considered as denunciation or libel against al-Rubaie.
Al-Haj cites the law which protects professional regard not professional glory; therefore, when someone discusses the performance of a particular person compared to the performance of others in general, it is not defamatory, rather it is an exercise of the right to criticize, which is one of the constitutional values of freedom of opinion.
Al-Haj explained that that the law provides “Criticizing someone does not constitute defamation toward judicial personality of people, if it was for the purposes of scientific research or to serve a public interest.”
JFO expresses serious concern due to Rubaie’s complaint in which he accuses journalist Nabil Jasim that “His objective behind the insult is to please the United Arab Emirates side and to benefit from these statements,” while indicating that the track records of MP Rubaie is full of prosecution and harassment against journalists.
JFO holds a negative indication against Rubaie in 2004 when he deliberately prevented journalist Mariam al-Attiyah and anchor Sherman Abbas from doing their job because of questions they directed to him at a news conference, prompting him to prevent those two journalists from entering the governmental conference palace and other institutions.