CPJ calls on U.S. for more information about detained Iranian journalists

Dear Mr. Bremer:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about the fact that U.S. forces have detained Said Abu Taleb and Soheil Kareemi, two journalists with Iranian State Television, since July 1.

Iranian journalists in Iran’s capital, Tehran, and an Iranian journalist in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, told CPJ that both men were working on a documentary film for Iran’s Channel 2 television in Diwaniyah, a town in southern Iraq. Gholem Reza Kutchak, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting chief in Baghdad, was quoted in news reports as saying that on July 7, U.S. forces confiscated the journalists’ belongings from a hotel in Karbala, in southern Iraq.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today that a coalition spokesman told reporters that the journalists were being held for committing “security violations” and that they were “not acting in a journalistic capacity when they were arrested.” However, CPJ would like to know the basis for those accusations. CPJ has yet to receive a response from Centcom for information regarding the detention of these journalists.

We are also investigating reports that U.S. troops have recently harassed other journalists. For example, AFP reported yesterday that Japanese cameraman Kazutaka Sato, of the independent news outlet Japan Press, was beaten and briefly detained by U.S. troops in Baghdad after he filmed the bodies of people being removed from a car after they were killed in a raid by U.S. forces. During the weekend, other wire services reported that U.S. troops briefly detained four Turkish journalists and a correspondent with the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

As an independent organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ urgently requests that you make public the basis upon which these accusations against Said Abu Taleb and Soheil Kareemi have been made. In addition, we ask that you provide us with any information about the detentions of other reporters in Iraq.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your response.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director