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Wikileaks releases video depicting US forces killing of two Reuters journalists in Iraq

Wikileaks, a nonprofit website, has released video from 'military whistleblowers' that appears to depict the 2007 killing of two Reuters journalists and nine other Iraqis. The US military had said at the time they were 'hostile' forces.

By Staff writer / April 5, 2010

A view from an Apache attack helicopter before US forces attacked a group of men in Bagdad in 2007. Wikileaks released this video which claims to show two Reuters journalists being killed.

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A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two Iraqi journalists with Reuters and about nine other Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb in 2007 that is sharply at odds of the official US account of the incident.

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WikiLeaks said the video was from the camera gun of one of two Apache attack helicopters that participated in the incident. The group said the video, with an audio feed between the helicopter's crew and other US forces, was provided by "military whistleblowers" but didn't elaborate further.

"WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives," wrote the group, which has a yearly budget of about $600,000 and is funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public, according to its website. "We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident."

The group, which does not list the names of anyone involved with the project, didn't elaborate further on its sources. Reuters did not confirm if its two employees are among the dead show in the video, saying it needs to investigate further.

"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," said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news, in a short statement. “The video released today via Wikileaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.

I spent more than four years reporting from Baghdad for the Monitor, including a number of tours embedded with US forces, during the war. While not an expert video analyst, I would say the video looks much like the neighborhood where the incident took place and – together with other details – make it likely the footage is authentic.

US account at the time

Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh were among the dead after US helicopters opened fire on a small group of Iraqi men in Baghdad Jadida ("New Baghdad") in the eastern part of the capital city on July 12, 2007. The Reuters journalists had gone to the area after they'd been tipped of that US forces had carried out a raid there earlier in the day.

The first US account of the incident said that the men were armed insurgents. That was later officially revised to say that the helicopters opened fire after being attacked from the ground. Since, Reuters has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the footage of the incident, to no avail.

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