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Iraqi Independent Newspaper Closed for 'Inciting People to Murder' - 2003-07-22

The Coalition Provisional Authority has ordered the shutdown of a Baghdad semi-weekly newspaper for publishing what the authority considered an article inciting people to murder. This is the first such move by the coalition since the end of the war.

A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority told reporters Tuesday the decision to close al-Mustaqilla, or The Independent, newspaper in Baghdad was made after it published an article on July 13 inciting readers to murder.

The page-two article said those who cooperate with the United States should be killed as a matter of patriotic and religious duty. The paper said it would publish a list of names of Iraqis aiding the coalition.

The Coalition spokesman, who spoke on condition his name not be released, said that, while it encourages the development of a free and independent Iraqi press, it considers the material published in al-Mustaqilla dangerous. There are over 100 new Iraqi newspapers or periodicals that have appeared on news stands since the end of the war.

The spokesman said both the Coalition and the Iraqi police had looked into the reporting done by al-Mustaqilla and found it in flagrant breach of Order 14 on mass media and of international law. He said the decision to close al-Mustaqilla was made by the Iraqi police on Monday.

Police Brigadier General Ahmed Ibrahim said the Iraqi police will not tolerate public incitement to violence by anyone.

The newspaper's office has been sealed, some equipment impounded and an employee on the premises was detained. The Coalition said blank Baath party membership cards were found in the office. It said it has other evidence suggesting al-Mustaqilla has ties to Saddam Hussein's former regime.