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iraq denies expelling reporters

by BRIAN Monday, Oct. 28, 2002 at 6:04 PM

US media telling lies?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP)--Iraq on Saturday denied expelling any Western journalists and said more reporters were expected to visit the country in coming days.

On Thursday, U.S. television networks, including CNN, ABC and NBC, said President Saddam Hussein's government was expelling some foreign journalists and warning of restrictive new rules for getting back into the country.

Eason Jordan, CNN's president of newsgathering, said the government was upset about foreign reporting of a demonstration outside the Iraqi Information Ministry in Baghdad by people upset that their imprisoned relatives had not been released in Saddam's general amnesty.

In a statement Saturday, the Iraqi Press Center labeled reports of media expulsions as ``baseless.''

Despite the Iraqi claims, CNN spokeswoman Edna Johnson said Saturday that nothing has changed, and that its journalists have been asked to leave the country by Monday.

Iraq issued one-week visas to about 500 foreign journalists to cover the Oct. 15 presidential election, in which authorities said Saddam won a new seven-year term with 100 percent of the votes.

Reporters were allowed to stay for another week, but the Iraqis announced that no further extensions would be approved and journalists would have to leave when their visas expired.

Most run out this weekend although the precise day varies depending on when the journalist arrived, Iraqi authorities said.

Another group of reporters is expected to cover next week's Baghdad International Trade Fair, the Press Center statement said.
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