Iraqi authorities removed the four after reportedly accusing them of being a “propaganda tool” for the U.S. military.
CNN confirmed on Friday that its Baghdad team planned to leave “at the first opportunity” and would travel to the Jordanian border.
Upon hearing the news, CNN reporter Bill Hemmer on the air said he hoped the Iraqi government would reconsider, but added “[t]he important thing is that these people get out safely.”
A CNN spokesperson in Atlanta provided few details on reasons for their expulsion, but an unidentified Iraqi official told Reuters that the CNN crew was accused of disseminating lies and “rumors.”
“CNN has been ordered out of Iraq…because they have become a propaganda tool to spread lies and rumors,” the anonymous Iraqi information ministry official said.
Earlier this week, CBS News pulled its correspondent Lara Logan from Baghdad for safety reasons after she noted an increasingly threatening atmosphere by Iraqi security guards and her minders.
ABC and NBC ordered their staffers to leave Baghdad on Monday. Iraqi authorities had kicked out Fox News Channel correspondents last month.
Of the U.S. television networks, only CNN and NBC/MSNBC correspondents and crews remained in Baghdad on Wednesday night, as U.S. forces initiated its air strikes over the Iraqi capital.
CNN’s other correspondents located elsewhere in Iraq continue to relay ground information to the cable news network.
Peter Arnett, a longtime war correspondent who covered the Gulf War for CNN is now working for National Geographic Explorer and NBC News, and appears to be the sole U.S. broadcast reporter left in Baghdad.
Giving a boost to NBC and MSNBC’s war coverage, Arnett on Friday provided a dramatic first-hand account from Baghdad as U.S. bombers delivered the strongest air raid yet on the city.
Other networks, meanwhile, have relied on British news journalists from outlets such as the BBC, ITV and Britain’s Sky News, for coverage on the Baghdad air raids.
ABC News two days ago contracted Richard Engel, a freelancer fluent in Arabic based in Baghdad who also works for the BBC, Voice of America, Agence France-Presse, among other news outlets.
Before the U.S.-led military campaign began, Iraq’s Information Ministry estimated some 300 foreign journalists were stationed in Baghdad. That figure did not include reporters working from other Iraqi cities, “embedded” journalists traveling alongside U.S. Forces, or independent reporters working elsewhere in the country.