08 July 2008

Soldiers Pretending to Be Journalists?

Isn’t anyone out there concerned about the potential hazard posed to real reporters when soldiers masquerade as journalists?

We ask because we haven’t seen any expressions of worry from major journalist organizations since it was revealed that the Colombian special forces who took part in that dramatic and successful hostage rescue last week pretended to be both aid workers and a TV crew.

Here’s how the Washington Post reported it:

“The commandos who volunteered for the operation took acting classes. Two posed as a camera crew… and a handful of others played the role of relief workers, faking foreign accents.”

Now, don’t get us wrong: we rejoice in the release of the hostages.

But, as one observer in Colombia argues:

“By having soldiers pose as journalists and aid workers in order to gain access to the hostages, the Colombian government has increased the already high risks faced by legitimate reporters and NGO workers. In a country that is already one of the most dangerous places in the world in which to work as a journalist or a defender of human rights, the armed actors will now be even more suspicious of anyone claiming to work in those fields.”

We agree that it is worrisome.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Alex Wright said...

Yes it is quite dangerous to journalists, and has happened before, e.g. in Afghanistan.

There operatives of either the Taliban regime or Al Qaeda also posed as journalists to suicide-bomb the leader of the Northern Alliance (the UN-recognised government) in Afghanistan in 2001.

I read British soldiers did something potentially damaging to neutrality in the 1990s in Bosnia. SAS troops posed as Red Cross officials to capture a suspected Serb war criminal who was director of a hospital.