Reuters keeps up pressure on US

Reuters has again written to the US Defense Department demanding action to guarantee the safety of its journalists, writes Wale Azeez.

Reuters global managing editor David Schlesinger wrote to the department on Tuesday “to express growing frustration at the US military’s failure to address [Reuters’] concerns about the safety of journalists in Iraq”.

He asked the US Government to answer the agency’s requests for more information on incidents that have proven fatal to Reuters journalists, namely the deaths of cameramen, Taras Protsyuk and Mazen Dana. After several requests, Reuters still awaits access to Pentagon reports on the killings.

The stakes were raised even further when two Reuters journalists and their driver were arrested and detained for 72 hours by US troops after being mistaken for enemy combatants.

Reuters lodged a complaint with the military authorities over their “mistreatment in detention”.

Schlesinger also took issue with “a highly charged and erroneous public statement” made by the US military at the time of the journalists arrest that “enemy personnel posing as media” had opened fire on US soldiers. He asked the US military to retract, correct or provide evidence to support its assertion.

Schlesinger added: “For several months, Reuters has patiently and co-operatively attempted to work with the Government to resolve this and other issues relating to the safety of journalists in areas of military conflict. Unfortunately, no progress has been made. Immediate action is necessary to address these issues.”

In our page-two story last week on Reuters and the investigations carried out by Reporters Without Borders into the shelling of the Palestine Hotel, we attributed a statement that “at the top level, the US Government must bear some of the responsibility” to Reuters, when in fact it was a RWB conclusion.

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