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U.S. Take On Detained Journalists Hypocritical

Publication Date: 
August 03, 2009
Source: 
San Francisco Chronicle
Author: 
Bob Egelko

Allen Weiner, co-director of the Stanford international law program and a former State Department legal adviser, talked to Bob Egelko about U.S. detention of reporters abroad:

While demanding that North Korea release two Bay Area reporters sentenced to prison, the United States has detained a Reuters cameraman without charges in Iraq since September - one of numerous foreign journalists jailed while covering U.S. military actions.

In the world community, where Washington periodically assails other nations' press crackdowns, the U.S. detentions have opened the government to accusations of promoting a double standard.

...

But "we are subject to the taint of hypocrisy if we detain journalists and then criticize other countries for doing the same thing," said Allen Weiner, co-director of the Stanford international law program and a former State Department legal adviser.

...

Weiner said it's not surprising that reporters - who have no special protections under international law - sometimes get caught in military sweeps.

Military authorities are entitled to investigate whether a purported reporter is actually a combatant or a spy, the Stanford instructor said. But he said international law forbids the military from targeting a press office, "even if you think they're engaged in propaganda."