US troops in southern Iraq detained and beat up two public RTP
television journalists from Portugal travelling in the company of
two Israeli colleagues after accusing the four of spying, the RTP
news director said today.
The four men entered Iraq on
Monday in a jeep heading for the front.
They arrived at Karbala on Wednesday, but had to return to Najaf
because the two Israeli reporters - public television correspondent
Dan Scemama and Boaz Bizmuth, who works for the daily newspaper
Yediot Aharonot - reportedly had no proper accreditation.
Near Najaf the four slept next to US tanks after refusing to quit
"When they woke up they were surrounded by military police
pointing their guns at them," said RTP news director Jose Rodrigues
Luis Castro and his cameraman Victor Silva are well and now
staying in Kuwait, dos Santos told Lusa news agency.
Castro was kicked around and Silva was brutalised, he added. They
were held inside a jeep for 36 hours, accused of spying and
forbidden to contact anybody until they were freed by an officer.
Scemama told his network they had spent the worst 48 hours of
their lives during their detention.
"The American soldiers said we were terrorists and spies and
treated us as such ... in spite of our explanations they threatened
us for hours with their arms," said Scemama.
The four were not given any food and were taken by helicopter to
Kuwait, where they received medical treatment.
Dos Santos said US officials later apologised and promised an
The Portuguese television network had not announced their
disappearance, so as not to alarm their families.
Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Lapan said the
journalists were "unilaterals" who "showed up on the battlefield and
posed a security threat to forces there".
"The forces didn't know who these people were. They were told by
headquarters to get them out of Iraq and back to Kuwait, which they
did," he said, adding that the journalists were flown out in a
"We don't have any indication they were mistreated, but we
continue to look into it," Lapan said.
US Navy Lieutenant Commander Charles Owens, a spokesman for US
Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said the military was looking into
the incidents and took such allegations seriously.