Monday, September 01, 2008

NAAJA protests arrest of Arab American Journalist and two colleagues outside GOP Convention

Arab American journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a producer at Democracy Now (, was arrested outside the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota along with host Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar. They were covering a street protest.

The National Arab American Journalists Association ( , founded in 1999 and with 275 members nationwide, has issued a formal protest demanding the release of all three journalists.

"The National Arab American Journalists Association today protests the arrest of Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar as they were reporting on a street protest outside of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul today," said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.

"NAAJA demands thatr the three journalists be released immediately. Their arrest while covering a street protest is a violation of the protections accorded journalists in this country."

Here is the release issued by Democracy Now on the arrests:

ST. PAUL, MN-Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here:

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation's leading independent news outlet.

Democracy Now! is a nationally syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman's Arrest:


Democracy Now! airs on over 650 radio and TV stations, including Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public access, PBS, satellite TV stations (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410;

Sharif grew up in Cairo, Egypt. He joined the Democracy Now! staff in 2003 after leaving the lucrative world of corporate investment banking. As the U.S. led occupation of Iraq was in full swing, Sharif traveled to Baghdad with DCTV filmmaker John Alpert. In addition to shooting video footage in Iraq for Democracy Now! Sharif reported from the streets of Baghdad on the occupation.

-- Ray Hanania