[JURIST] Iraqi military spokesperson Major General Qassim Atta said Monday that he is seeking the closure of the Bagdad offices of newspaper Al-Hayat and television network Al-Sharquiya [media websites, in Arabic] after the two media outlets allegedly misquoted him in a story reported last week. Atta said he has sued the the two services for incorrectly reporting [NYT report] that he had ordered the re-arrest of several detainees recently released by American forces. Also Monday, Iraq's National Media Center of the Council of Ministers criticized [AP report] both local and international media for what it said was "inciting public dissent" by positively depicting paramilitary leaders wanted by the government.
Iraq has been criticized in the past for restrictive media policies. In 2007, the government banned news and camera crews from photographing bomb sites [JURIST report]. Also in 2007, Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website, in Arabic] approved legal action [JURIST report] against Al Jazeera [media website] for "insulting" top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani [BBC profile; official website]. In 2006, the parliament banned journalists from their sessions [JURIST report] to prevent reporting of contradictory statements made by politicians. Also in 2006, the Interior Ministry announced the formation of a specialized unit that would monitor news coverage [JURIST report] to correct "fabricated and false news" that the ministry claimed gave the Iraqi people the wrong impression that the situation in the country is worse than it actually is.