BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. soldiers detained an Associated Press photographer and driver on Tuesday, handcuffing them, forcing them to stand in the sun for three hours and denying them water or use of a telephone.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division detained photographer Karim Kadim (search) and driver Mohammed Abbas, both Iraqis, near Abu Ghraib (search), west of Baghdad, and kept their guns trained on them, despite repeated attempts to explain they were journalists.
The troops were looking for explosives planted in the area.
"We identified ourselves from the very beginning as press, even before we approached the troops. I was asked not to take any pictures and I didn't. We were told to leave and we walked away, and then one of them shouted at us to come back," Kadim said.
An armored personnel carrier arrived moments later. Three soldiers disembarked and aimed their guns at the two men.
"A sergeant ordered us to raise our hands and face an APC. We were searched, and they took away all my camera gear. Then our hands were tied behind our backs, first with rope, and then with plastic handcuffs," said Kadim, extending his wrists to show marks left by the cuffs.
The two were made to stand for three hours in temperatures of 110.
Abbas said the soldiers accused them of participating in the insurgency attacking U.S. troops.
"You know about the explosives here, you are part of the people who put them here," Abbas quoted one soldier as saying.
The two were later taken to a U.S. base, where Maj. Eric Wick apologized. Wick also called the AP office in Baghdad, saying it "was a misunderstanding on our part."
On Thursday, U.S. soldiers shot up Kadim's car in Khaldiyah (search) during a firefight after an American convoy was hit with a remote-controlled roadside bomb. Kadim was in the car, along with another driver, and both jumped out and ran for cover after they saw a tank had them in its sights. They were fired on as they ran and the car was badly damaged. Neither man was hurt. The AP sent a letter of protest to the U.S. military in Baghdad.