US to probe new 'abuse' photos

US to probe new 'abuse' photos
By Philip Sherwell in Washington
(Filed: 05/12/2004)

The American military has launched an investigation into newly published photographs purporting to show abuse of Iraqi prisoners by navy special forces.

The pictures, published on the internet, apparently show grinning personnel sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees. In one, an automatic weapon is trained on a bloodied man.

The date stamp is March 2003, the month in which the war began. Although the humiliating acts depicted are less graphic than the torture captured on the notorious photographs from Abu Ghraib prison camp, they are another embarrassment for the US army.

"These photographs raise a number of important questions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and detainees," said Cmdr Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command. "The matter will be thoroughly investigated."

The authenticity and location of the pictures has not been confirmed. If genuine, however, they breach military rules by revealing the identities of navy SEALs (an acronym for Sea, Air and Land), many of whom work on covert counter-terrorism operations.

The photos were posted on a picture-sharing website by a woman who claimed her husband, a serviceman, had brought them home from Iraq. Copies were passed to the navy by Associated Press after a one of its journalists stumbled across them on the internet. The photographs appear to have been taken during a raid on a house. Several show grinning men in US uniform taking turns to sit and lie on three hooded prisoners in the back of a lorry, according to the news agency. One showed a man lying on the floor with a boot on his chest.

Although the pictures depict degrading treatment of detainees and violate US military rules, it was unclear whether the actions were criminal. Navy regulations prohibited photographing detainees except to keep records of prisoners or for counter-intelligence purposes, Cmdr Bender said.

Seven military police reservists have been charged over the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Naval Special Warfare Command Link

Navy SEALs Link

New Posts

Latest Threads