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Journalist group demands probes into Iraq deaths
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States should hold comprehensive, impartial and public inquiries into the deaths of 16 journalists and three media support workers killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, a media lobby group said on Monday.
In a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said thorough investigations into the deaths were needed to ensure lessons were integrated into future military and media training.
The deaths of the journalists and media support workers in the war, which began in 2003, have been back in the spotlight after a video of a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff, was leaked to WikiLeaks, a group which says it promotes leaks to fight government and corporate corruption.
The U.S. military's Central Command has said it has no plans to reopen an investigation into that incident, which killed Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40.
Some international law and human rights experts who have watched the video say the Apache helicopter crew in the footage may have acted illegally.
"We are particularly concerned that the troops in the helicopter mistook a camera for a weapon. This is not the first such claim by the U.S. military," Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon said in the letter.
Attached to the letter is a list of all the journalists and media workers killed by U.S. troops in Iraq. They include Reuters cameramen Taras Protsyuk and Mazen Dana, killed in separate incidents in 2003, and Reuters soundman Waleed Khaled, killed in 2005.
"While we have not found evidence that U.S. troops intentionally targeted journalists in any of these cases, our research shows that the majority of the killings were either not sufficiently investigated or that the military failed to publicly disclose its findings," Simon said.
"We renew our call for comprehensive, impartial, and public inquiries into all of these cases," he said. "These investigations would benefit both the military and the media so long as the lessons learned are integrated into future training."
David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor-in-chief, called this month for a new investigation of the 2007 incident. "Reuters from the start has called for transparency and an objective inquiry so that all can learn lessons from this tragedy," he said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Storey)
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