- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

TEL AVIV, Israel, March 28 (UPI) — U.S. troops in Iraq detained three foreign journalists on suspicion of espionage and beat two of them, relatives and a co-worker said Friday. They were released after 48 hours in Kuwait.

The journalists, Dan Scemama, of Israel's Channel 1 TV and Boaz Bismuth of the Israeli Yediot Aharonot entered Kuwait without proper accreditation. Scemama said earlier this week he was denied accreditation because he represented Israeli TV.

The two teamed up with a Portuguese TV reporter, rented a jeep, and entered Iraq on their own, driving alongside American convoys. They phoned in reports based on conversations with U.S. troops and Iraqis.

Scemama's girlfriend, Shlomit Yarkoni, said the journalists were forced to stop Tuesday, beside six tanks, because of sandstorms. "They couldn't see the road …(and) the Americans advised them not to move because they would not be identified in the dust and… orders to (the troops) shoot at almost anything that moves."

Early Wednesday soldiers woke them up, at gunpoint, and accused them of espionage. The reporters were told to pick up their shirts and let down their pants to prove they were not carrying bombs.

Scemama's sister, Dina Harel, told United Press International they were told to drop to the sand, face down. They were later kept in a closed jeep for 36 hours.

The Portuguese journalist asked to phone home and was beaten, the two said. His ribs were broken and he is now hospitalized.

Yediot Aharonot's city desk editor, Eran Tiefenbrunn, told UPI Bismuth was also beaten.

Yediot Aharonot, concerned about loss of contact with the journalists, asked the Pentagon to help find them.

After 48 hours, a helicopter flew the reporters to an American military base in Kuwait where they were released and given their phones back. Their rented jeep was impounded, Har'el said.




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