Anja Niedringhaus (12 October 1965 – 4 April 2014) was a German photojournalist who worked for the Associated Press (AP). She was the only woman on a team of 11 AP photographers that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for coverage of the Iraq War. That same year she was awarded the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism prize.
Niedringhaus had covered Afghanistan for several years before she was killed on Friday, 4 April 2014, while covering the presidential election, after an Afghan policeman opened fire at the car she was waiting in at a checkpoint, part of an election convoy.
Early life and education
Niedringhaus was born in Höxter, North Rhine-Westphalia, and began working as a freelance photographer at age 17 while still in high school. In 1989, she covered the collapse of the Berlin Wall for the German newspaper Göttinger Tageblatt.
Niedringhaus began full-time work as a photojournalist in 1990 when she joined the European Pressphoto Agency in Frankfurt, Germany. As EPA's Chief Photographer she spent the first ten years of her career covering the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
In 2001, Niedringhaus photographed the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and then traveled to Afghanistan, where she spent three months covering the fall of the Taliban. In 2002, she joined Associated Press, for whom she has worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Kuwait and Turkey. On 23 October 2005, she received the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award from American broadcaster Bob Schieffer at a ceremony in New York.
In 2007, Niedringhaus was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. She was part of the 69th class of Nieman Fellows where she studied culture, history, religion and the issues of gender in the Middle East and their impact on the development of foreign policy in the United States and other Western countries. Established in 1938, the Nieman program is the oldest mid-career fellowship for journalists in the world. The fellowships are awarded to working journalists of accomplishment and promise for an academic year of study at the university.
Niedringhaus was killed at the age of 48 in an attack in Afghanistan, while covering the country's 2014 presidential election. Fellow AP journalist, Kathy Gannon, a 60-year-old Canadian, was seriously injured in the attack and underwent emergency surgery. The attack took place at a checkpost on the outskirts of Khost city in Tani District, where the journalists were part of an independent election commission convoy delivering ballots under the protection of the Afghan National Army and Afghan police. While the two were waiting in the car, an Afghan police unit commander named Naqibullah walked up to their car and opened fire while yelling "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great); shooting the two women in the back seat. After the attack, the officer surrendered, and was taken into custody. Six judges at the Kabul District Court found Naqibullah guilty of wounding, murder and treason and sentenced him to death.
Kim Gaeml (2014-04-04). "AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed, Reporter Kathy Gannon Shot In Afghanistan". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
Niedringhaus and Gannon had worked together repeatedly in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, covering the conflict from some of the most dangerous hotspots of the Taliban insurgency. They often focused on the war's impact on Afghan civilians, and they embedded several times with the Afghan police and military, reporting on the Afghan government's determination to build up its often ill-equipped forces to face the fight against militants.
DL Cade (2014-04-04). "Veteran AP Photographer Killed by Afghan Policeman Who Opened Fire on Her Vehicle". Peta Pixel. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
According to the AP report, Niedringhaus, 48, was in a car with AP reporter Kathy Gannon, a AP Television News freelancer and a driver. They had just arrived at a heavily guarded district compound and were waiting for the convoy to move forward when a unit commander by the name of Naqibullah “walked up to the car, yelled ‘Allahu anjaAkbar’ — God is Great — and opened fire on them in the back seat with his AK-47.”
Michael Edwards (2014-04-04). "Two female foreign journalists shot in Afghanistan, one dead". Australian Broadcasting Network. Archived from the original on 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
"Anja Niedringhaus and Cathy Gannon were the two journalists in the world who spent more time than any others covering Afghanistan," Associated Press executive director Kathleen Carroll said.
"Kathy Gannon, Canadian-born journalist, wounded in Afghanistan, colleague, photographer Anja Niedringhaus, killed". National Post. 2014-04-04. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his deep sadness over Niedringhaus’ death and the wounding of Gannon. “These two AP journalists had gone to Khost province to prepare reports about the presidential and provincial council elections,” a statement from Karzai’s office quoted him as saying. It added that Karzai instructed the interior minister and the Khost governor to assist the AP in every way possible.
- "The 2005 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Breaking News Photography". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- "2005 Courage in Journalism Award: Anja Niedringhaus, Germany". International Women's Media Foundation. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Afghan elections: two foreign journalists shot on eve of polls". The Daily Telegraph. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Alumni Fellows". Nieman Foundation, Nieman Fellowships. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "The Lucid Evidence". Museum für Moderne Kunst. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- "M_ARS – Kunst und Krieg, 2003". Neue Galerie Graz. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Anja Niedringhaus: Deutsche Fotografin in Afghanistan erschossen, zeit.de, retrieved 4 April 2014 (in German)
"Death sentence given in AP photographer's killing". Yahoo News. 2014-07-23. Archived from the original on 2014-07-23. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
A Kabul court announced Wednesday that the Afghan police officer charged with killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon has been convicted and sentenced to death.