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SPJ calls for investigation of charges made by journalists


CONTACT:Mac McKerral, President, 813/250-9269 or mmckerral@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists on Thursday called for a thorough and independent investigation of charges leveled by journalists, who allege they were abused by the U.S. military.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that three Iraqis working for the company, and another Iraqi journalist working for NBC News, were seized for no reason in early January by the U.S. military and taken to a prison near Fallujah where they were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, among other forms of mistreatment. The U.S. military has denied the accusations.

"The extremely serious nature of these charges requires a thorough investigation and that investigation needs the full cooperation of the U.S. military and news agencies involved," said Mac McKerral, SPJ president. "But this kind of investigation needs to be conducted independently of the parties making the accusations and denials. The charges certainly fall into the scope of congressional investigations of non-combatant abuse.

"No doubt, covering events such as those that have and continue to transpire in Iraq comes with risk for all journalists regardless of what country they call home. Many journalists have paid the ultimate price, giving their lives," McKerral said. "But no journalist should fear reprisal from any military personnel from any country in the coalition. A thorough and independent investigation can help allay those fears and uncover the truth."

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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