August 18, 2003

Fellow journalists accused U.S. troops of negligence

More bitter evidence on the lack of credibility in "US
mainstream news media," none of them have been killed
by US fire in Iraq...Who has been killed
*accidentally* by US forces in Iraq? Reuters
correspondents, Al-Jazeera correspondents...Reuters,
of course, is a UK-owned news service of remarkable
professionalism in contrast to AP, etc. in the US; and
Al-Jazeera is, well, Al-Jazeera...It is a very sad,
disturbing trend...Bravo to SeeBS for running the
story on the airwaves back home here in Oceania...

Reporters: U.S. Troops Negligent
BAGHDAD, Aug. 18, 2003

Fellow journalists accused U.S. troops of negligence
in the shooting death of a Reuters cameraman, saying
it was clear the victim was a newsman when soldiers on
two tanks opened fire. Press advocacy groups called
for an investigation.

Mazen Dana, 43, was shot and killed by U.S. soldiers
Sunday while videotaping near a U.S.-run prison on the
outskirts of Baghdad. The U.S. Army said its soldiers
mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade

Press advocacy groups Reporters Without Borders and
the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists
demanded a full investigation into the shooting.

Reporters Without Borders urged Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld to conduct an "honest, rapid"
investigation. The group also noted that there have
been isolated cases in which soldiers in Iraq have
been hostile to the news media.

"Such behavior is unacceptable and must be punished.
It is essential that clear instructions and calls for
caution are given to soldiers in the field so that
freedom of movement and work of journalists is
accepted in Iraq," the group said in a statement.

The film Dana shot showed a tank driving toward him.
Six shots were heard, and the camera appeared to tilt
forward and drop to the ground after the first shot.

Dana was working outside the Abu Ghraib prison after a
mortar attack there Sunday in which six prisoners were
killed and about 60 wounded. Witnesses said Dana was
dressed in civilian clothes.

"We were all there, for at least half an hour. They
knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they
aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was accident.
They are very tense. They are crazy," said Stephan
Breitner of France 2 television.

Breitner said soldiers tried to resuscitate Dana but

A U.S. military official said on condition of
anonymity that American soldiers saw Dana from a
distance and mistook him for an Iraqi guerrilla, so
they opened fire. When the soldiers came closer, they
realized Dana was a journalist, the official said.

"This is clearly another tragic incident, it is
extremely regrettable," Central Command spokesman Sgt.
Maj. Lewis Matson said.

Dana's driver, Munzer Abbas, said Dana had got out of
the car when he saw the tanks approaching.

"We saw a tank, 50 meters away. I heard six shots and
Mazen fell to the ground. One of the soldiers started
shouting at us, but when he knew we were journalists,
he softened. One of the soldiers told us they thought
Mazen was carrying a rocket-propelled grenade," said

"There were many journalists around. They knew we were
journalists. This was not an accident," he said.

Reuters quoted soundman Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was with
Dana, as saying that the U.S. soldiers "saw us and
they knew about our identities and our mission.

"After we filmed we went into the car and prepared to
go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen
stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and
Mazen walked three to four meters (yards). We were
noted and seen clearly," al-Shyoukhi said.

"A soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the
ground. I heard Mazen and I saw him scream and
touching his chest.

"I cried at the soldier, telling him you killed a
journalist. They shouted at me and asked me to step
back and I said 'I will step back but please help,
please help and stop the bleed."'

He said they tried to help him but Dana was bleeding

"Mazen took a last breath and died before my eyes."

At the Reuters headquarters in Baghdad, the mood was
gloomy, and journalists from different organizations
converged to express condolences. Dana's camera lay on
the floor in the editing room.

"Mazen was one of Reuters' finest cameramen and we are
devastated by his loss. He was a brave and an award
winning journalist who had worked in many of the
world's hotspots," said Stephen Jukes, Reuters' global
head of news, in a statement.

Dana's death brings to 13 the number of journalists
who were killed in Iraq since the start of the war on
March 20. Two Independent Television News journalists,
cameraman Fred Nerac of France and translator Hussein
Osman of Lebanon, have been missing since shooting
incident March 22 in southern Iraq in which
correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed.

An outspoken critic of the Israeli government's
treatment of journalists, Dana was honored by the
Committee to Protect Journalists with an International
Press Freedom Award in November 2001 for his work
covering conflict in his hometown of Hebron in the
West Bank. He was shot at least three times in 2000,
according to the citation on the group's web site.

Dana was married and had four children.

"Words and images are a public trust and for this
reason I will continue with my work regardless of the
hardships, even if it costs me my life," Dana said
after accepting the award.

"He was committed to covering the story wherever it
was and he was an inspiration to friends and
colleagues at Reuters and throughout the industry,"
Jukes said.

Abbas, the driver, recalled how Dana was telling
al-Shyoukhi of the war stories he had covered over the

"He said he wanted to take a shot of the prison from a
house with a vantage point. Nael told him to be
careful because of the Americans. Mazen said he wasn't
too worried as long as they don't shoot him."

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Posted by richard at August 18, 2003 11:27 AM