WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Thursday he had asked for more protection for the Reuters office in Baghdad after the news agency’s bureau chief left the country due to threats.
Abadi, who has been in Washington meeting with President Barack Obama to seek support in fighting Islamic State militants, said he was seeking more information after last week’s departure from Iraq of Reuters bureau chief Ned Parker.
“We want more information so that I can take action,” he said at an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
After a Reuters report last week that detailed lynching and looting in the city of Tikrit, a post on a Facebook page linked to armed Shiite groups demanded Parker be expelled. One commenter said killing him would be the best way to silence him.
Three days later, a news show on a television station owned by an Iranian-backed armed group accused Parker and Reuters of denigrating Iraq and its government-backed forces, and called on viewers to demand Parker be expelled.
A statement Abadi had issued in English on journalist protections following the threats against Parker would be translated into Arabic, he said.
“I’m not sure, Mr. Parker, why he has left, to be honest with you,” Abadi said. “... Was he really threatened or he felt that he was threatened?”
Abadi added that his government would respect freedom of the press but that media also “should respect freedom of others.”
A Reuters spokeswoman said she had no comment.
Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Jason Szep, Toni Reinhold