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2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq

October 29, 2003|From Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Coalition forces in Iraq have detained two Al Jazeera staffers on allegations that they had prior knowledge of a car bombing in Baghdad, the editor of the Arab satellite television station said Tuesday.

Coalition military officials said they had no details about the detentions.

U.S. soldiers detained Iraqi cameraman Samer Hamza and a driver while they were covering an explosion at a police station in western Baghdad, Al Jazeera editor Ibrahim Hilal said.

The blast was one of a series of car bombings Monday that killed dozens of people and injured more than 200.

Hilal said the Al Jazeera staffers were held on allegations they had known of the attack before it took place -- charges he denied.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera has repeatedly been accused by U.S. officials of biased reporting, accusations the station also denies. Journalists from Al Jazeera and other news organizations occasionally have been held for short periods by coalition troops.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has criticized U.S. military forces for what it called an increased harassment of reporters since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

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