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Post reporter claims U.S. troops detained him at gunpoint

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    NMU         AFGHANISTAN         Newsgathering         Feb 12, 2002    

Post reporter claims U.S. troops detained him at gunpoint

  • A spokesman for the Department of Defense said he “has a hard time believing” a reporter’s claims that he was threatened by soldiers while investigating a U.S. missile attack in Afghanistan.

A Washington Post reporter said an unidentified U.S. troop leader threatened to shoot him if he went near the scene of a U.S. missile strike in Afghanistan last week.

In an audio interview on the Post‘s Web Site, Doug Struck said he was in a car when he approached a site surrounded by armed American soldiers. He got out of the vehicle, and a commander told him “don’t move or we’ll shoot.”

In the interview, Struck recounted his experience: He was detained at gunpoint from 15 to 20 minutes while he explained that he was an American reporter. The commander, who refused to identify himself, continued to deny Struck access to the scene. Struck persisted and asked what would happen if he went forward. Again, he was told he would be shot.

At a news briefing, Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said he wasn’t sure he believed Struck was threatened.

“To believe that a U.S. American serviceman would knowingly threaten, especially with deadly force, another American is hard for me to accept,” Stufflebeem said.

Stufflebeem said there is no way of knowing whether those claiming they are reporters are actually reporters, and the soldiers are trying to be protective, not threatening.

Struck and the soldiers were investigating an attack in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan by a U.S. Hellfire missile fired from a CIA spy plane. The soldiers have since left the site.


© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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