Iraqi journalists abused by US soldiers?

Reuters makes revelations about the January torture of three of its employees in Iraq at the hands of the US military

A Reporters Sans Frontieres Report

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has written to United States (US) Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, protesting the Reuters news agency`s revelations about the torture of three of its employees in Iraq at the hands of the US military.

The organisation condemned the Pentagon`s ?lax attitude and total lack of openness in the case. Unsatisfactory replies and the obvious failure to hold any effective investigation, despite repeated requests from the British news agency, do no reflect well on the American government,? RSF said.

?The accounts given by the Reuters journalists are overwhelming. The facts reported are extremely serious. However, the US army, apparently believing itself to be above the law, has not deemed it necessary to interview the three victims. We ask you this time to react with real integrity and conduct a proper investigation of these very serious accusations, including those made by an al-Jazeera cameraman, Hassan Saleh, who also reported that he was tortured at Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003,? the organisation said

?The investigations must be reopened, not with the aim of clearing the army, but with the intention of shedding light on these allegations of torture and to punish those responsible,? concluded RSF.

Three Reuters staff members reported that they were beaten and exposed to humiliating and degrading treatment of a sexual and religious nature during their detention in a US military camp near Fallujah, in January 2004. The three Iraqis, two journalists and their driver, recounted their ordeal to Reuters when they were released on 5 January. But they only decided to go public after the US army challenged the evidence of mistreatment and the media revealed the practice of torture in Abu Ghraib prison.

In a letter dated 5 March, but only received by Reuters on 17 May, Lt-Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of US ground forces in Iraq, said he was convinced the investigation had been ?thorough and objective.? In light of the latest facts about mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, Reuters global managing editor David Schlesinger recently urged the Pentagon to review its previous findings.

The mistreatment took place at a military base near Fallujah, Forward Operating Base Volturno. Cameraman Salem Ureibi, Fallujah-based freelance journalist Ahmad Mohammad Hussein Al-Badrani and driver Sattar Jabar Al-Badrani were arrested on 2 January while covering a US army helicopter accident near Fallujah. All three were released without charge on 5 January.

?When I saw the Abu Ghraib photographs, I wept. I saw that they had suffered like we had,? Ureibi said.

A summary of the investigation conducted by the 82nd Airborne Division, dated 28 January and provided to Reuters said, ?No specific incidents of abuse were found.? The summary said soldiers responsible for the detainees were interviewed under oath and ?none admit or report having knowledge of physical abuse or torture.? The US army never interviewed the three Reuters employees.

RSF also urged the Pentagon to carry out a separate investigation into the conditions of detention of Saleh, aged 33, a cameraman with the Qatari-based station al-Jazeera. According to his account, carried in several media outlets, including the British daily ?The Guardian? and the American magazine ?The Nation?, he was mistreated on several occasions in Abu Ghraib prison.

The US army arrested Saleh on 3 November 2003 near Baquba, about 40 kilometres north of Baghdad, while he was covering a bomb attack that had just occurred against an American convoy. His interrogators accused him of having advance knowledge of the explosion.

Saleh described how he was first driven to Baghdad`s international airport, then to Tikrit, before being taken to Baghdad`s Abu Ghraib prison, where he was stripped, beaten and insulted, with soldiers calling him ?al-Jazeera?, ?boy? and ?bitch.? During his detention, he was forced to remain standing naked for 11 hours with his head in a bag. He was then beaten, dressed in a red outfit covered in vomit and interrogated by two Americans in civilian clothes. His interrogators accused al-Jazeera of working with terrorists.

After several weeks in detention, Saleh was brought before the Federal Supreme Court, newly established by the Iraqi Governing Council. According to ?The Guardian?, Saleh ppeared before the first session of the court, which released him for lack of evidence. He was freed on 18 December outside Baghdad, still dressed in the same soiled clothes.

For further information, contact S鶥rine Cazes-Tschann at RSF, 5, rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:, Internet:

Subscribe To The Newsletter
The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

Clearly, the run to the 2019 elections is on. A journalist received a call from someone saying they were from Aajtak channel and were conducting a survey, asking whom she was going to vote for in 2019. On being told that her vote was secret, the caller assumed she wasn't going to vote for 'Modiji'. The caller, a woman, also didn't identify herself. A month or two earlier the same journalist received a call, this time from a man, asking if she was going to vote for the BSP.                 

View More