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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

66 Journalists Killed, Others Detained

Reuters:
At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the Iraq conflict since March 2003. U.S. forces acknowledge killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled who was shot by American soldiers on Aug. 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. But the military say the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth journalist working for the agency, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a U.S. sniper. "The worsening situation for professional journalists in Iraq directly limits journalists' abilities to do their jobs and, more importantly, creates a serious chilling effect on the media overall," [Reuters Global Managing Editor David] Schlesinger wrote. "By limiting the ability of the media to fully and independently cover the events in Iraq, the U.S. forces are unduly preventing U.S. citizens from receiving information... and undermining the very freedoms the U.S. says it is seeking to foster every day that it commits U.S. lives and U.S. dollars," the letter said.

Schlesinger said the U.S. military had refused to conduct independent and transparent investigations into the deaths of the Reuters journalists, relying instead on inquiries by officers from the units responsible, who had exonerated their soldiers. The U.S. military had failed even to implement recommendations by its own inquiry into one of the deaths, that of award-winning Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana who was shot dead while filming outside Abu Ghraib prison in August 2003. Schlesinger said Reuters and other reputable international news organisations were concerned by the "sizeable and rapidly increasing number of journalists detained by U.S. forces".

He said most of these detentions had been prompted by legitimate journalistic activity such as possessing photographs and video of insurgents, which U.S. soldiers assumed showed sympathy with the insurgency. In most cases the journalists were held for long periods at Abu Ghraib or Camp Bucca prisons before being released without charge. At least four journalists working for international media are currently being held without charge or legal representation in Iraq. They include two cameramen working for Reuters and a freelance reporter who sometimes works for the agency. A cameraman working for the U.S. network CBS has been detained since April despite an Iraqi court saying his case does not justify prosecution. Iraq's justice minister has criticised the system of military detentions without charge.
Shockingly, these crimes against humanity have received very little attention in the Blogosphere, and of course the MSM... Please do your part to raise awareness. Pass it on.

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