Sunday, September 11, 2005

Reporters Without Borders: News agencies targeted by Iraqi and US troops

Reporters Without Borders: News agencies targeted by Iraqi and US troops
Reporters Without Borders called today on the Iraqi army to explain at once why its soldiers shot and seriously wounded Associated Press Television News (APTN) cameraman Abdul Kamil Hassan on 7 September and charged that "those responsible for restoring order in Iraq - the Iraqi army and police, and US troops" - had become "serious persecutors" of journalists in recent months.
"Iraqi and Arab journalists working for international news agencies have a vital function as they are currently the only ones who can tell us what is happening amid the chaos in Iraq," it said, urging Iraqi and US officials to take "energetic steps to halt the growing threats and dangers to news agency employees."
Hassan was wounded while filming a spot in Samarra (100 km north of Baghdad) where a home-made bomb had been found. Investigating Iraqi troops followed him and opened fire, hitting him in the arm and stomach. They then took him to the city hospital, where his life is not in danger.
The Associated Press (AP) news agency has been hard hit since the start of the war in Iraq. Cameraman Saleh Ibrahim was killed on 23 April this year in an explosion probably aimed at US troops. Another employee, Ismaïl Taher Mohsin, was killed on 2 September last year and APTN journalist Sami Shuker Naji has been in Abu Ghraib prison since 30 March this year for supposedly collaborating with "insurgents."
Local journalists for Reuters news agency has also been victims of violence over the past week. Sound-man Waleed Khaled, of Reuters TV, was killed on 28 August and cameraman Haider Khadem, who was with him, was slightly wounded and held by US troops for three days. Another Reuters TV cameraman, Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashadani, has been held by the US army since 10 August.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters photographers have also been roughed up recently by Iraqi police and have filed complaints at the prime minister's office.

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