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Iraq

Iraqi journalist freed week after apparent kidnapping

Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi has been released after apparently being abducted by government forces for questioning. Details surrounding her abduction remain unclear.

An Iraqi journalist who was taken from her Baghdad home last week has been released. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said that he had called Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi in to "inquire after her health and safety."

The journalist was seized from her home on December 27 by gunmen and taken to an unknown location. They allegedly also took gold, money, phones, laptops and her car. The reported abduction sparked protests by her colleagues in Baghdad (pictured).

"Thank God, I'm fine," 43-year-old al-Qaisi told the local NRT satellite TV station after her release.

"They treated me well. They just interrogated me and thank God they found me not guilty," she added.

Dangerous country for journalists

Al-Qaisi is also employed by the Iraq's Culture Ministry, and is known for having made statements in the past against widespread corruption in the country and in support of social reforms - despite being a government employee.

In one of her more recent articles, al-Qaisi criticized an Interior Ministry officer who had physically assaulted a school principal in front of students and staff for failing to punish a student who had argued with his daughter. Another recent piece by the veteran journalist dealt with the increase of arms among pro-government militias in Iraq.

Iraq is among the most dangerous countries for journalists. Militant groups have abducted and even killed dozens of journalists since the 2003 invasion of the country. "Reporters Without Borders" classified Iraq as the 158th worst country for journalists out of 180. Seven journalists were killed in the country in 2016, according to the press freedom watchdog.

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ss/kms (AP, dpa)

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