After five days
, the AP finally got back
its confiscated video of a Wednesday Baghdad bombing. U.S. troops briefly detained the AP cameraman who shot the footage, Ayad M. Abd Ali, for no stated reason.
The U.S. military returned a videotape and digital camera memory card Monday that American soldiers had seized last week from an AP Television News cameraman.
The tape and card were taken without explanation from Ayad M. Abd Ali at the scene of an insurgent attack against the Polish ambassador in Baghdad. The ambassador, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, suffered burns and was evacuated by helicopter.
After photographing the attack's aftermath and the rescue activities, Abd Ali was detained by U.S. troops for about 40 minutes in spite of having shown the soldiers a valid U.S.-issued press credential and identification.
Abd Ali is an Iraqi, which might explain why he was detained at the scene of the bombing. Two U.S. military public affairs officers, Lt. Colonels James Hutton and Scott Bleichwehl, have not responded to my repeated requests for comment.
Bleichwehl was initially paraphrased
as saying that U.S. troops took the footage as line with an Iraqi law restricting media coverage of insurgent attacks. Today the AP reports that, on Thursday, he said that he never meant "to imply American soldiers were enforcing Iraqi laws."
The AP isn't too happy about what happened.
An attorney for The Associated Press said he was dismayed by the incident. "We're glad to have it back, but it should never have been seized in the first place," said Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for the news cooperative. "We plan to ask for assurances that soldiers aren't actually being told to harass journalists and interfere with newsgathering."
Maj. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, arranged the return of the tape and memory card. He said he hoped it would not happen again.
Iraqi police have been known to confiscate materials from photographers who arrive after an attack or bombing has occurred, but it has been rare for U.S. troops to seize journalists' materials.