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AFTRA Urges Iraq Probe

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The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and The Newspaper Guild-CWA (TNG-CWA) have called on President Bush to "heed the requests from journalists around the world for an independent investigation into the record number of deaths among media staff covering the war in Iraq."

Thomas R Carpenter, AFTRA national director of news and broadcast, and President Linda Foley of TNG-CWA, sent the letters as part of the International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) global campaign to keep a public focus on the dangerous conditions facing journalists and media staff covering the Iraqi conflict.

"Respect for a free and independent press is a critical component of the liberty that members of a democratic society enjoy," Carpenter wrote in the April 8 letter to Bush. "More than ever, it is critical to protect the values of freedom, liberty and justice by responding to the request of journalists and the worldwide organizations representing them for a thorough and independent investigation."

In events and a letter-writing campaign around the world last week, IFJ and affiliated organizations called for a full and independent investigation by the United States into some 14 incidents in which media staff were killed while working in Iraq, including the bomb attack on the Palestine Hotel which killed Jose Couso, a reporter with Telecinco in Spain, and Taras Protsiuk, a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters.

In her letter to Bush, the TNG-CWA's Foley said, "We recognize, of course, that most journalists who die each year are killed by cruel extremists…and we unequivocally condemn those attacks and the people behind them." But the United States also must defend its "traditions of liberty and justice by addressing the concerns of journalists around the world," she noted, adding that the Pentagon's report about the Palestine Hotel tragedy, to date, has been inadequate and unconvincing, raising more questions than it resolved.

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