When the Iraqi Army fled Mosul on June 10, 2014, IS took control of eight local TV and radio stations and seized their technical equipment, according to the Iraqi press freedom group Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO). It also began to round up journalists and media workers during raids on their homes and media outlets. JFO said that, as a result, Mosul journalists fled the city en masse.Al-Nuaimi unsuccessfully tried to flee Mosul three times. When he barely managed to escape an IS night raid on his house in July by fleeing to his neighbor's, he realized that his attempt to hide behind an alias had been in vain. His name was on an IS's list of 40 most wanted people because of his jobs as a radio announcer and news editor at the two outlets.
IS created a monopoly over information in the territory under its control and accounts of life inside Mosul, including the fate of missing and abducted journalists, became heavily censored and almost impossible to verify.
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One Mosul journalist, who prefers to be identified only by initials W.M. for fear of retribution, was not as lucky as Al-Nuaimi. A photographer for Sama Mosul TV since 2011, he used to cover varied beats, ranging from politics to sports, across Nineveh province.Although he had survived in hiding for a few months, he was taken from his home on October 17, 2014, under a ruling by an IS Sharia court that accused the remaining Mosul journalists of violating the ban on reporting and leaking information to local and foreign media, according to JFO.For 27 days, W.M. was held in a basement in western Mosul along with six of his Sama Mosul co-workers. JFO said they were charged with providing Nineveh Al-Ghad TV, funded by the former governor al-Nujaifi, with news reports from inside Mosul. In an attempt to make him confess to leaking information about the situation in Mosul, IS militants tortured W.M. physically and psychologically, the journalist told CPJ, but declined to provide further details.
Meanwhile, al-Nuaimi remained safe but isolated from the outside world in the house of a relative, on whom he relied for food and supplies. He couldn't use the phone to talk to his family or friends for fear of retribution on them. Every two or three months, his family would venture out onto the streets of Mosul under the cover of darkness and visit him."[IS] searched my house three times and threatened to kill [my family] lest they reveal my whereabouts. They told them I had fled to Baghdad," he said.With loneliness taking a toll on his soundness and depression looming over him, al-Nuaimi turned to writing. "I read books and novels. I wrote a book that I hope to publish soon. I couldn't do my job as a journalist, because journalists were being persecuted," he said.Now, he is theoretically free to work, but, he said: "There are no job opportunities for Mosul journalists. Many journalists have returned, but there are no media outlets to employ them. Local TV channels broadcast from outside the city. There are no radio stations or TV channels inside Mosul. I am unemployed."
"There are no job opportunities for Mosul journalists. Many journalists have returned, but there are no media outlets to employ them."
Under IS, civilians in Mosul relied primarily on satellite TV for news from the outside world. According to media reports, as the Iraqi Army began to close in on Mosul, IS, which had already banned the use of mobile phones, restricted access to television in May 2016 and shut down all internet providers in July the same year, thus leaving weak mobile networks on the city outskirts as the only potential source of information and imposing a de facto news blackout.Since eastern Mosul was retaken, satellite dishes have begun to mushroom again on the rooftops, allowing residents to track the advances of Iraqi forces in western Mosul. News reports confirmed that cellphone services and internet are being restored, but bans on media coverage of military operations are being occasionally imposed. In late March 2017, journalists were banned by Iraqi military authorities from entering the Mosul Jadida neighborhood following an airstrike that killed 150 people .
Direct censorship by the state is only one of several obstacles for the media.