Reuters news agency said Thursday one of its Iraqi photographers had been detained by the U.S. military and called on the American command to make public the reasons for his detention.
Ali al-Mashhadani, who also freelances for the British Broadcasting Corp. and National Public Radio in the United States, was picked up Saturday in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone where he had gone to apply for a U.S. military press card, Reuters said in a statement.
Al-Mashhadani is being held at the U.S. detention facility at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport, the agency said.
Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger called on the U.S. military to make public its accusations against the photographer so they can be “dealt with fairly and swiftly, with the journalist having the right to counsel and present a defense.”
“Iraqi journalists like Mashhadani play a vital role in telling this story to the world,” Schlesinger said in a statement Thursday.
The BBC said it was concerned about al-Mashhadani’s detention and urged the American military to “disclose as a matter of urgency the grounds on which he is being held and what charges, if any, he faces.”
The Associated Press requested comment from the U.S. command but none was immediately available.
Reuters said two Iraqi journalists who were in the military press office at the time said they saw American soldiers frisking al-Mashhadani and leading him away. The agency said two other witnesses said they saw U.S. soldiers escorting a handcuffed man with a hood over his head.
The U.S. military maintains that a U.N. mandate gives it the authority to detain indefinitely anyone believed to pose a security threat to U.S.-run coalition operations in Iraq.
Al-Mashhadani was detained in August 2005 after U.S. troops found photos of insurgent activity in his camera while searching his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.
He was released without charge in January 2006 but was detained for two weeks a few months later. No charges were filed after the second detention.
U.S. forces have held other Iraqi journalists working for foreign news organizations for long periods without charging them.
In April, the U.S. military released Bilal Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer working for The Associated Press, after holding him for two years.
An Iraqi television camera operator working for the AP in Tikrit, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was detained by U.S. forces in June. He was recently ordered held for at least six more months.
The U.S. military said Raziak was held for “imperative reasons of security” and provided no further details.