BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A Reuters cameraman remained in U.S. military custody in Baghdad on Tuesday, two days after surviving an incident in which his soundman was shot dead, apparently by U.S. troops.
U.S. officers said they were continuing to question Haider Kadhem, 24, about “inconsistencies” in his statements after he was taken from the car in which soundman Waleed Khaled was killed by multiple shots while on a news assignment.
Iraqi police said U.S. troops fired on the Reuters team, both Iraqis.
Reuters has demanded the immediate release of the cameraman, who arrived in Baghdad from his home in the southern city of Samawa only last week. The international news agency has said it sees no reason to detain a victim and witness in the shooting.
Kadhem was treated for minor wounds from flying fragments, a U.S. military spokesman said.
He added that a U.S. investigation into the circumstances of the killing was continuing.
Security experts who examined the scene said all the shots appeared to have been fired from the same spot, corresponding to the roof of a building overlooking the highway bridge where the car was hit.
Kadhem told colleagues who spoke to him briefly after the shooting that he saw a U.S. soldier on that rooftop.
Two Reuters cameramen have been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. A third was shot dead by a sniper in Ramadi last November in circumstances for which Reuters is still seeking an explanation from U.S. forces.
Reuters’ cameraman in the city of Ramadi, Ali al-Mashhadani, was arrested by U.S. forces three weeks ago and is being held without charge in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
Military officials have allowed no access to the journalist and have refused to say what he is accused of.
A U.S. military spokesman said a judicial hearing into his case “probably” took place on Monday at a secret location in Baghdad. No access was available for an attorney or any other interested party and it was not yet clear what the outcome was.
COMMENT: I was aggressively challenged in an earlier blog post about Arab journalists being killed by US troops. I was further challenged in the notion that the US would employ snipers to do the killing, or that the US would cover up their actions. I remain unconvinced, and even more unconvinced, after this incident, in which the other journalist, who was wounded, is still being held incommunicado.
Is this what it will take for the editors of the big news organs to begin questioning the veracity of EVERY statement coming out of the Centcom lie-mill? -SG