U.S. Holds CBS Cameraman In Iraq

GENERIC television news camera iraq media
A cameraman carrying CBS press credentials was detained in Iraq earlier this week on suspicion of insurgent activity, the U.S. military said Friday.

The cameraman suffered minor injuries Tuesday during a battle between U.S. soldiers and suspected insurgents, the military said. He was standing next to an alleged insurgent who was killed during the shootout, the statement said.

The military issued a statement then saying the cameraman was shot because his equipment was mistaken for a weapon.

But on Friday, the military said the cameraman was detained because there was probable cause to believe he posed "an imperative threat to coalition forces."

"He is currently detained and will be processed as any other security detainee," the statement said.

CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports the military became suspicious when they examined the contents of the camera and found pictures of what appears to be the aftermath of four separate attacks by insurgents using IEDs, improvised explosive devices. The footage, taken so soon after the attacks, suggest the cameraman had to have foreknowledge that the attacks would take place, officials told Stewart. The scenes and timing of the taping are very disturbing, said one official.

Reporting from Baghdad, CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan told Bob Schieffer that CBS News is cooperating with military investigators. The cameraman came with good recommendations, Cowan said.

"From every indication we had, the work he had done for us the past three months has been exceptional,'' Cowan said. He noted the all the networks employ locals in Iraq that help get footage that U.S. photographers couldn't get.

A spokesman for Task Force Freedom, Capt. Mark Walter, said the reporter suffered minor wounds and was with "a number of people" involved in the shootout.

Walter said the reporter was detained immediately after the incident, in part because of statements from witnesses to the battle.

Officials are investigating the man's previous activities as well as "his alleged support of anti-Iraqi insurgency activities," the statement said.

On Friday, CBS News issued a statement saying the cameraman had been working with the network for about three months, and had been referred by a trusted source with whom CBS has had a two-year relationship.

"It is common practice in Iraq for Western news organizations to hire local cameramen in places considered too dangerous for Westerners to work effectively. The very nature of their work often puts them in the middle of very volatile situations,'' the statement said.