BAGHDAD – Iraq's military has filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down the Baghdad operations of a major Arab newspaper and television station, alleging they falsely reported that orders had been issued to arrest ex-detainees recently released by the U.S., an official said Monday.
Al-Hayat newspaper and Al-Sharqiya reported last week, quoting Iraq's military spokesman, that the names and photos of the released detainees had been distributed to checkpoints with orders to arrest them as part of an investigation into recent bombings in Baghdad.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said Monday that the two falsely quoted him, and the military filed a lawsuit last week to close their Baghdad operations.
He said he told the TV station and the newspaper that authorities were going over the files of those recently released to see if they had rejoined armed groups — but denied that he said authorities planned to arrest them.
"The command will demand the closure of their Baghdad officers for the false reports about re-arresting prisoners who were given general amnesty," al-Moussawi said in the statement.
Editors at the newspaper and the television station would not immediately comment but said they planned to issue statements later.
Dozens have been killed in a recent wave of bombings that have rocked Baghdad. A number of international news agencies used the quotes, attributing them to Al-Hayat and Al-Sharqiya.
Al-Sharqiya, a popular satellite station based in the United Arab Emirates, has no Baghdad office but has a large Iraqi audience and at least one correspondent who works in the capital. London-based Al-Hayat has several correspondents who work in Baghdad.