July 18, 2011
A close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatened to sue an Iraqi journalist works for the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Mustaqbal" in Baghdad.
Ali Baghdadi, correspondent, the author of the article published in June, 21, told the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, that Rami Makhlouf , Syrian political and businessman, close ally to President Bashar al-Assad, sent a response to the newspaper telling that his mission in Baghdad was upon the request of the "Association of transparency in Iraq" to review- in the presence of Iraqi Integrity Commission, the contracts concluded by Makhlouf ‘s companies with some Iraqi officials in the fields of gas and oil...
Makhlouf, through his office, responded to the article saying:
"Mr. Editor in chief of the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Mustaqbal",
On June, 21, 2011, your newspaper published an article by "Ali al-Baghdadi" in which he accused Rami Makhlouf of corruption, however, we retain the right to sue those who stand behind the false information published in your paper, and we reject the information mentioned in that article and ask you to seek accuracy and objectivity. You are aware that my clients became a target of a hostile campaign based on lies...
If your correspondent has any proof of his accusations, let him publish them, otherwise he practices libeling and defamation to my clients’ reputation...
He added "We ask you to publish this response in the same place and size where Al-Baghdadi's article published”.
Following is the text of the article published by the paper:
The "Iraqi Organization of transparency" called on the Iraqi government and "Commission of Integrity COI" to review Syrian business man Rami Makhlouf’s contracts of gas and oil.
The organization, an NGO concerned with combating corruption, said "A year ago, Al-Makhlouf, visited Iraq and met with senior Iraqi leaders and signed $ 1 billion contract in the field of gas and oil."
The "Organization of transparency in Iraq" indicated that the deal did not pass through the usual official channels; no copies presented to the COI or to the Iraqi parliament.
The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory JFO condemns any attempt to undermine the Iraqi journalists by foreign bodies. JFO call on the Iraqi government to take all necessary measures to protect Iraqi journalists and confirm their immunity against any prosecution and sue cases.
JFO recalls the suffering of ALI SHLAH, Iraqi MP, with Syrian authorities during his recent visit to Syria for his articles written earlier this year, and refers that it will take the necessary measures in case if Mr. Makhlouf carries out his threat to sue our colleague Al-Baghdadi.