By: Jay DeFoore
(Photo District News) A freelance photographer and New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman were detained at gunpoint on the road to Falluja today at approximately 4:00 p.m. Iraqi time. They were held for about three hours and later released unharmed, according to a photo editor at the Times.
A spokesperson for the photographer’s agency described the photographer as “shaken” but “fine and safe.” The journalists were reportedly on the road to Falluja, a flashpoint in the violent Sunni uprising, when the abduction occurred.
They were traveling in the first car of a two-car convoy. A security officer hired by the Times to protect the reporters was following in a second car.
According to the agency spokesperson, once the journalists were taken out of the first car at gunpoint, the security officer tried to intervene, but shots were fired and he had to retreat.
In a separate incident yesterday, New York Times reporter John F. Burns and freelance photographer Shawn Baldwin, who works for the Reflex News agency, were kidnapped and held for eight hours by supporters of radical Islamic cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Burns writes in today’s issue of the Times about the experience.
Meanwhile in the neighboring town of Ramadi yesterday, Maurizio Gambarini, a photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), suffered what EPA Editor-in-Chief Cengiz Seren described as a “superficial” gunshot wound to the arm while covering fighting.
“Since a couple of weeks ago, the situation in Iraq is disturbingly presenting symptoms of a pre-civil war period,” Seren said in an e-mail. “Our first priority being the staff safety, we will have to re-assess our way of covering Iraq to make sure we have indeed taken all possible measures to increase their safety and further improve them as necessary.”