A video released on WikiLeaks.org shows disturbing footage taken in 2007 from an American apache helicopter as they circle and fire upon a group of people they identify as armed hostiles in the street.
As it turns out, the two men who appear to be armed are actually working Reuters employees: photographer, 22-year-old Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, who was 40. The two men were walking in the street with camera straps hanging from their shoulders. One of the men has a long lens, misidentified as an RPG.
According to a New York Times article published yesterday, Reuters had heard of a military raid in the area — the same raid that the military was attending to, and the two men went to investigate. Their mere proximity to the raid proved to be fatal.
The military fired upon the men and other individuals, who were later confirmed to be civilians, among them two children and the two Reuters employees. The attack killed 12, including Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh.
In a United States Central Command report:
“[The men] made no effort to visibly display their status as press or media representatives and their familiar behavior with, and close proximity to, the armed insurgents and their furtive attempts to photograph the coalition ground forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them.”
Reuters news editor in chief David Schlesinger said in a statement:
“The deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh three years ago were tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones. We continue to work for journalist safety and call on all involved parties to recognize the important work that journalists do and the extreme danger that photographers and video journalists face in particular.”
(via New York Times)