Dana: shot by troops in August
Reuters Television has stepped up its campaign for access to the Pentagon’s report into the death in Iraq of cameraman Mazen Dana.
Managing director Tony Donovan told Press Gazette the agency had been frustrated in its quest to discover the truth behind the killing of Dana, who was shot by a US soldier while filming on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Soldiers said they mistook his shoulder-held camera for a rocketpropelled grenade launcher. It is believed they have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Pentagon.
At this week’s News World International 2003 conference in Dublin, Donovan asked US Assistant Defense Secretary, Brian Whitman, to order the Pentagon to release details of its investigations. “Why does the US state department feel it not necessary to release the results of its own inquiry?” he asked. “The frustration we feel is in being denied access to the troops involved but then not being able to see the results of the US findings and getting very broad – and in many cases bland – summaries of those reports.”
Whitman assured Donovan that Reuters would be able to examine the report’s findings “to the fullest extent possible” once the report was “completed and appropriately reviewed.”
But he warned that certain sections of the report would remain classified “so as not to disclose rules of engagement for adversaries to take advantage”.
But Donovan told Press Gazette that he believed the report had already been completed, but remained undisclosed.
“We are pushing to have the details released both to the family of Mazen Dana and to ourselves. “Some of it may or not be classified. But to claim the entire report is classified would be nonsensical. “The frustration we have is that we can’t speak to the soldiers involved.
We’re dependent on the military entirely, and we then don’t see the detail of the firing incident. How much is classified and how much isn’t? We’ll never know. I’m pleased he [Whitman] acknowledged the need to release the report.”
Reuters has already written two letters to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld requesting to see details of the inquiry. Reuters has also filed a request for a copy of the report under the US Freedom of Information Act.
By Wale Azeez in Dublin