Iq: Concern that US forces are holding CBS wounded cameraman

Reporters Without Borders said today it was very worried that the US forces have detained a CBS cameraman of Iraqi nationality ever since shooting and wounding him during an operation against an insurgent on 5 April.

"We call on the US army to release him very quickly if no evidence is produced to support his alleged collaboration with the insurgency," the press freedom organization said.

The organization said there have already been cases of journalists being detained for no reason by the coalition forces in Iraq. In May 2004, for example, three journalists with the French TV station Canal + were detained while working in Baghdad. They were held for nearly 30 hours although they had their press cards and their TV station immediately confirmed their identity.

A US army statement said the CBS cameraman was being held because be might pose "an imperative threat to the coalition forces." CBS said the US military suspect him of links to the rebels because video footage found in his camera shows he was on the scene of several bombings shortly after they took place. This makes the US military think he may have been warned in advance in the insurgents.

CBS yesterday issued a statement of support for their cameraman, who began working for them three months ago after being recommended by one of their fixers. CBS has asked that he not be named for his own protection.

He was wounded in the hip during an exchange of shots between an Iraqi insurgent and members of the 1st brigade of the US 25th infantry division near the northern town of Mosul. In a statement issued by the Pentagon, the US army said soldiers fired at a rebel who was "waving an AK-47 (assault rifle) and inciting a crowd of civilians."

During the incident, "an individual that appeared to have a weapon who was standing near the insurgent was shot and injured. This individual turned out to be a reporter who was pointing a video camera. Regretfully, the reporter was injured during the complex and volatile situation," the statement said, adding that the incident was being investigated.

The cameraman was taken to a US military hospital for treatment. The US army described his injuries as minor. Reporters Without Borders immediately condemned his shooting as a "blunder" by the US army.

see info on margin of blog for Reporters Without Borders ---------------->

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