Basim Mardan, Omar Ghanim Fathi and "Waddah Ali" are all now living in Norway.
The interviews are posted on the New York Times website (Basim Mardan , Omar Ghanim Fathi and "Waddah Ali "), and longer versions are available on the PEN American Website.
Omar Ghanim Fathi was working for an American-backed newspaper when he wrote an essay for a competition in which he described his views of the changes in Iraq. His essay "The Hope" won the competition, but sealed his fate. A picture of the winner appeared in the newspaper, and the next day a man was murdered outside Fathi's house. An assassin had mistaken man who'd come to read the electric meter Omar Ghanim Fathi.
Fathi escaped to Jordan for a brief time before returning to Iraq, where he hid in an abandoned factory building. His friend Basim Mardan helped him as best he could.
Basim Mardan is a translator who worked as a librarian at the university in Mosul where he studied English and Linguistics. Under the new Iraqi government Mardan took a job translating police manuals into Arabic. One day he received a DVD on his doorstep. The video showed the images of his friend Nabil Abdul Ahad and his kidnappers. A few days later Abdul Ahad was murdered. Mardan interpreted the video as a warning that he would be next.
At first Mardan fled the city, but returned when his wife gave birth to their son. Upon returning to Mosul, he accepted a job with a students' rights organization on the condition that his name not be written in any official documents. He was also able to secure his friend Fathi, who was still hiding in the factory building, a job with the same organization. But it wasn't long before members of the organization became the targets of assassins.
It was through the internet that Basim Mardan was able to come in contact with International PEN and Kjell Olaf Jensen of Norwegian PEN, who helped facilitate the Norwegian residency of both men.
Today Basim Mardan is an ICORN Guest Writer at Skien City of Refuge, the same city in which his friend Omar Ghanim Fathi also lives.
While you can read a good deal of ICORN Guest Writer "Waddah Ali"'s story on the New York Times webpage. We will be providing more information, including his real name, here as soon as it is safe to do so. Some of ICORN's Guest Writers, while being safe themselves, have family members who may be at risk should the details of their situation be revealed.
"Waddah Ali" has chosen to speak publicly to Larry Siems knowing the risks, and taking precautions.
More information about Iraq's history and links to differing views of the current situation can be found here .
Background information for this article was obtained from the Dagbladet article of November 27, 2006 by Lars Inge Staveland.