Reuters Ire at US Probe of Cameraman’s Death

September 29th, 2003 - by admin

by BBC –

BBC (September 28, 2003) — Mazen Dana was killed by a US tank shell while filming in broad daylight near Baghdad on 17 August. An inquiry into his death cleared the troops involved saying they had respected the rules of engagement. But Reuters’ head Tom Glocer said he was dismayed that the US Defence Department had not properly notified the agency about the inquiry’s results.

On Monday, US military spokesman in Baghdad, Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo, said the Pentagon would not publish the full report because some parts of it were classified. Reuters said it had only found out about the results of the report after questioning Lt Col Krivo.

In a letter to US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, released on Thursday, Mr Glocer said: “I am writing to you again in order to express my deep dismay that neither Reuters nor Mazen Dana’s family were properly informed of further developments in this case”.

“Specifically, neither was advised directly of the completion and findings of your investigation, which were instead communicated in a haphazard way by a military spokesman responding to journalist questions in Baghdad. I certainly don’t believe that my government intentionally targets Reuters or anyone else’s journalists but let’s just say protecting journalists isn’t high enough on the Pentagon’s priority list,” Mr Glocer, who holds US citizenship, wrote.

Reuters spokeswoman Susan Allsopp said the agency had already filed a request under the US Freedom of Information Act for a copy of the report.

Glocer first wrote to the US defence secretary on 20 August demanding a thorough investigation into Mr Dana’s death. He also urged the Pentagon to “establish clear guidelines on how journalists and the military interact”. A number of international media rights bodies had earlier also expressed concern over the death of Mr Dana and demanded a full inquiry.

Daylight killing
The shooting of Mr Dana happened near Abu Ghraib prison in daylight, after he and his sound engineer had asked permission to film from US soldiers. But shots were later fired from a US tank, and the cameraman was hit in the chest.

He was taken to a US military hospital but pronounced dead on arrival. US military officials later described Mr Dana’s shooting as a terrible tragedy, saying the troops mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Dana is the second Reuters cameraman to be killed since US-led troops invaded Iraq. In April, Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian based in Warsaw, died when a US tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, the base for many foreign media in Baghdad.