FEBRUARY 4, 2005
Posted: March 14, 2004

Giuliana Sgrena, Il ManifestoABDUCTED

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, abducted on February 4, was released on March 4. Shortly after her release, she was wounded and an Italian intelligence agent escorting her was killed when U.S.-led coalition forces fired on their car near a military checkpoint in Baghdad.

Sgrena, a reporter for the Rome-based daily Il Manifesto, was being taken to Baghdad International Airport when the shooting occurred.

The shooting claimed the life of Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari. In article published in Il Manifesto, Sgrena said the agent threw himself over her to protect her from fire.

According to a statement issued by the U.S. Army’s Third Infantry Division, soldiers tried to warn the driver to stop before firing at the vehicle’s engine block. “About 9 p.m., a patrol in western Baghdad observed the vehicle speeding towards their checkpoint and attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand-and-arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car,” the statement said.

Sgrena disputed the military’s account in published comments. She said “there was no bright light, no signal” and that her car was traveling at “regular speed.”

Sgrena was abducted near Baghdad University, where she had been conducting interviews. Two weeks later, kidnappers released a video showing her pleading for her life and calling on U.S. and coalition troops to leave Iraq. Uncorroborated claims of responsibility for the journalist’s abduction had appeared on Islamist Web sites, but the video showed the words “Mujahedeen Without Borders” inscribed in digital red Arabic script in the backdrop.

The Italian government said it would not accede to demands to pull out its troops.