BAGHDAD — Naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor; a prisoner beating his head against a wall: images from an old scandal that officials fear may fan new hostility against U.S. soldiers on Iraqi soil.
Fresh images showing Iraqis abused by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison three years ago were broadcast yesterday by Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service — some more gruesome than those that first appeared in 2004 and triggered outrage worldwide.
For the United States and its coalition partners, the pictures could not have come at a worse time. Iraqis already were furious at footage shown last weekend of British soldiers beating Iraqi youths two years ago. Tempers in the region are also running high over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that were published in the West.
Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya television aired some of the new images, but refrained from showing the most shocking and sexually explicit footage. Excerpts were also broadcast on CNN.
Some images appear to show corpses. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating.
The Australian network said they were forced to participate.
Iraq’s acting human-rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was “horrified” by the images and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.
“There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis,” she said. “One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they [the Australian broadcasters] didn’t give them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We have had enough suffering and we don’t want any more.”
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defence Department believed the release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and “could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world.”
He said he did not know whether the photos and video clips were among images the Pentagon has been withholding from public release since 2004.
But another Defence official said Army officials had reviewed the photographs posted on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website and matched them to images that were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the matter publicly, said the photos contained no new information about abuse.
Although the Abu Ghraib case was exhaustively reported in Baghdad years ago, the new images could revive the issue of treatment of Iraqis by U.S.-led occupation forces.
The Australian network, which aired the pictures on its Dateline program, did not identify anyone in the images. However, several photos appear to show former specialist Charles Graner Jr., who is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in the scandal.
In one image, men wearing combat-style uniforms and holding dogs on leashes appear. Another showed two naked men whose hands were cuffed together. Another depicts an Iraqi’s face in agony.
Other images showed what appear to be dead bodies, as well as wounded people and prisoners performing sex acts. SBS said the bodies were of people who died at the prison.
The SBS also showed photographs of a bloodied cell block and the corpse of a man it said was killed during a CIA interrogation.
Another video, also aired by Al-Jazeera, showed a man described as mentally disturbed beating his head against a wall. Al-Jazeera’s brief excerpts included a hooded Iraqi male in his underwear, a naked figure lying on the floor next to what appeared to be a pool of blood and another with a man who appeared to be Mr. Graner smiling as he held a male prisoner.
The SBS broadcast said many of the new photos showed Mr. Graner having sex with Lynndie England, a 23-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., who is serving a three-year prison term for abusing detainees. Former Ms. England, a former private, said Mr. Graner fathered her young son.
Those photos were not shown.
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