Cameraman who detained by US forces freed

U.S. forces have detained several Iraqi cameramen and photographers in recent months, including two working for Reuters.

Cameraman who detained by US forces freed

The U.S. military has released an Iraqi cameraman who works for a television station in Baghdad after detaining him in a raid last week.

Cameraman Omar Hisham told Reuters he was freed on Friday, a day after being detained along with his father and two brothers at their home in the northern Adhamiya district of Baghdad.

"They suspected I had information about an American soldier who was killed by a sniper in Adhamiya more than two weeks ago," Hisham said by telephone on Tuesday.

U.S. forces have detained several Iraqi cameramen and photographers in recent months, including two working for Reuters.

Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, an Iraqi who has supplied photos and video to Reuters on a freelance basis for about two years, was detained a week ago and is still being held. The American military said he was regarded as a "security threat".

Last month, the U.S. military freed Ali al-Mashhadani, an Iraqi cameraman working for Reuters and other foreign media, after holding him for three weeks without charges.

Hisham said he was released with his father, although his two brothers were still being held.

The military said on the day of Hisham's detention that a journalist had been picked up in an operation against al Qaeda.

Before being freed, Hisham said U.S. soldiers told him through a translator that "there is nothing against you".

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomed the release of Hisham and called on the military to free Jassam, who was arrested during a raid at his home in Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad.

"We welcome the release of Omar Hisham, but worry about the apparent uptick in journalist detentions," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.

Hisham, who was detained in a predawn raid last Thursday, said U.S. forces held him in a small, cold cell.

"I am tired psychologically because I am innocent," he said.

Hameed Ghazal, director of news at Baghdad TV, said: "The way they raided and detained (the men) was barbarous. We ask the government and parliament to set a law to protect journalists."

Iraqi and international media rights groups have criticised the military's treatment of suspicions apparently arising from reporters' legitimate activities covering acts of violence.

The U.S. military says the U.N. mandate authorising its presence in Iraq allows it to hold anyone it deems a threat indefinitely. That mandate expire on Dec. 31.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Eylül 2008, 17:41
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