On 14 November, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, issued an update about the statement she issued on 29 August, 2014, regarding Abdullah Murtaja, in the context of UNESCO’s mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.
The original statement issued on 29 August was in line with UNESCO’s policy of condemning all killings of journalists. During this week, information has been brought to the attention of UNESCO that Mr Murtaja was a member of an organized armed group -- an active combatant, and, therefore, not a civilian journalist. This has come to light in a video was posted recently on the Internet with Abdullah Murtaja speaking as a member of an organized armed group.
UNESCO therefore withdraws the statement of 29 August.
“I deplore attempts to instrumentalize the profession of journalists by combatants," declared Irina Bokova. “The civilian status of journalists is critical, especially in situations of conflict, to ensure the free flow of information and ideas that are essential to the wider public and the restoration of stability and peace,” declared the Director-General.