US troops accused of mistreating media

US troops are mistreating journalists in Iraq and censuring the media, Reporters Without Borders has claimed.

Incidents of arrest, assault and confiscation of equipment were increasing, the Paris-based press freedom organisation said.

Two Iranian television journalists, Said Aboutaleb and Soheil Karimi, were arrested on 1 July for alleged security violations”. A week later, soldiers went to their hotel and took their belongings. US forces said they had been transferred to the Baghdad airport detention camp.

“The US-British forces must provide convincing evidence that the Iranians have violated security or else release them at once,” said Robert Mènard, RWB’s general secretary.

On 27 July, Kazutaka Sato, of Japan’s Nippon TV network, was thrown on the ground and kicked by US soldiers after filming a US army attack in which five civilians were killed.

Al-Adala, the newspaper of Iraq’s main Shia party, said its Baghdad offices had recently been ransacked by US troops.

Four Turkish journalists were arrested by US troops on 26 July. Their equipment was returned, but digital images of soldiers had been erased.

Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Mosul was arrested on July 26 with his driver and held by US troops until the night of July 27. Their film was confiscated.

Iraqi police had briefly detained a four-man Al-Jazeera team on 22 July while they were filming protests against the US-British presence. The station said police arrested the four at the request of the US Army.

Ménard also expressed concern at recent statements by Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, accusing the pan-Arab satellite TV stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya of broadcasting reports encouraging violence against US troops. The two stations denied it.

By Mary Stevens

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