IMAGE: Saddam photos
Akram Saleh  /  Reuters
A man in Baghdad looks at photos of an imprisoned Saddam Hussein on Saturday. The Sun, a tabloid newspaper in Britain, first published the images.
NBC, and news services
updated 5/23/2005 11:45:54 AM ET 2005-05-23T15:45:54

A British tabloid published more revealing photographs of Saddam Hussein in U.S. custody on Saturday, a day after it ran a front-page picture of the former Iraqi leader naked except for his underwear.

The international Red Cross, which is responsible for monitoring prisoners of war and detainees, said the photographs violated Saddam’s right to privacy. The U.S. military condemned the publication and ordered an investigation of how the pictures were leaked to The Sun.

Saturday’s pictures included one of Saddam seen through barbed wire wearing a white robe-like garment, and another of Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as “Chemical Ali,” in a bathrobe and holding a towel.

The photos were certain to offend Arab sensibilities and heap more scorn on an American image already tarnished by the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison and allegations by Newsweek, later retracted, about desecration of the Quran at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S., British military under scrutiny
Saddam’s chief lawyer, Ziad al-Khasawneh, said the photos “add to acts that are practiced against the Iraqi people.” He said he would sue the newspaper “and everyone who helped in showing these pictures.”

Giovanni de Stefano, Saddam's lawyer in Britain, told NBC News that "a potential criminal offence has alledgedly been committed under Section 13 of the Geneva Convention 1949.

"It has been repeated today. Our request is for the Director of Public Prosecution and Secretary of State to take action."

When asked if he felt the photos had been leaked by British soldiers, he replied: "Not excluded. There are 2 alternatives: U.S. soldiers and British soldiers were guarding him. The U.S. guards have denied any involvement and have launched an inquiry. The British guards have said nothing."

"That leads us to believe.... there are presumptions in law... you no longer have a right to silence," he told NBC News on Saturday.

However, The Sun said Friday the photos were provided by a U.S. military official it did not identify who hoped their release would deal a blow to Iraq’s insurgency. Managing editor Graham Dudman told The Associated Press that the newspaper paid “a small sum” for the photos. He would not elaborate except to say it was more than 500 British pounds, which is about $900.

The New York Post, which is also owned by Murdoch, also published the photos on Friday.

U.S. vows full probe
The U.S. military in Baghdad said the publication of the photos violated U.S. military guidelines “and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals.”

A spokesman, Staff Sgt. Don Dees, said the military would question the troops responsible for Saddam.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said U.S. military officials in Iraq believe the photos are “dated” — perhaps more than one year old, although no specific date has been established.

“This is something that should not have happened,” Whitman said.

Army Maj. Flora Lee, Multinational Forces spokeswoman in Baghdad, said the photos could have been from January 2004 to April 2004, “based on the background of the photos and appearance of him.”

Images taken from surveillance cameras?
Saddam, who was captured in December 2003, has been jailed at a complex near Baghdad airport named Camp Cropper, which holds 110 high-profile detainees.

Lee would not confirm an NBC News report citing Pentagon sources that Saddam was moved to a different cell in another location and that the photos were taken by 24-hour surveillance cameras.

Aside from U.S. soldiers, the only others with access to Saddam are his legal team, prosecuting judge Raed Johyee and the International Committee for the Red Cross, which monitors his treatment for compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

“Taking and using photographs of him is clearly forbidden,” ICRC Middle East spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said. U.S. forces are obliged to “preserve the privacy of the detainee.”

More members of Saddam's former regime
Alongside the photo of Saddam in Saturday’s editions, The Sun ran photos of a man and a woman. They were identified as al-Majid, who faces charges for his role in poison gas attacks against Iraq’s Kurdish minority, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a biotech researcher dubbed “Mrs. Anthrax.” who got her nickname for her alleged role in trying to develop bio-weapons for Saddam.

Video: Iraqi reaction The man, grizzled and gray, is shown hunched wearing a bathrobe, leaning on a cane and holding a towel as he rises out of a chair. The woman can be seen wearing a headscarf, walking outdoors and looking forlornly in the distance.

Some Iraqis called the photos of Saddam the latest in a series of insults to Arabs and Muslims. Others, however, said the humiliation is just what the 68-year-old former dictator deserved.

In Baghdad coffee shops, Iraqis watched as some Arab satellite networks — including Al-Arabiya — showed the front page of The Sun, with its picture of Saddam standing in his underwear. Other published photos show him clothed and seated on a chair doing some washing, sleeping and walking in what is described as his prison yard.

“This is an insult to show the former president in such a condition. Saddam is from the past now, so what is the reason for this? It is bad work from the media. Do they want to degrade the Iraqi people? Or they want to provoke their feelings,” said Baghdad businessman Abu Barick.

Others were not so kind.

“Saddam Hussein and his regime were bloody and practiced mass killing against the people, therefore, whatever happens to Saddam, whether he is photographed naked or washing his clothes, it means nothing to me. That’s the least he deserves,” said Hawre Saliee, a 38-year-old Kurd.

Bush: Photos won't inspire insurgents
President Bush said he didn’t think the images would energize the insurgents, thought to be led by Sunni Arabs who were favored under Saddam’s regime but largely excluded from the new Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.

“I don’t think a photo inspires murderers,” Bush said. “These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric.”

Later, however, White House press spokesman Trent Duffy said the photos could be perceived by members of the insurgency in much the same way as revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.

“This could have serious impact, as we talked about, with the revelations of prisoner abuse,” he said. “What the United States did in both of those situations, however, is recognize that, take immediate steps to investigate and get to the bottom of why it happened and how it happened and take steps to make sure that ... people are held to account.”

Strong opinions
The photos did not provoke much of an outcry across the Middle East on Friday, when businesses are shut and people take the day off and try to avoid the news.

But those who did notice expressed strong opinions when questioned.

In Dubai, Sabine Hajj, a 25-year-old Lebanese, said the pictures were “shameful and controversial. It’s an insult to human beings, regardless of who he is or what he did. This is a breach of privacy.”

Rawad Nasr, a 30-year-old Jordanian salesman, said the pictures were “shocking.”

“Regardless of what he did, they shouldn’t have been published. This is an insult to humanity, and whoever published them must be prosecuted,” Nasr said.

In Bahrain, Ali Yousef, 21, said he “cracked up” when he saw the pictures.

“I don’t care about Saddam, he was a ruthless dictator and he deserves worse,” Yousef said.

Charges against Saddam include killing rival politicians during his 30-year rule, gassing Kurds, invading Kuwait and suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991.

Iraq’s planning minister, Barham Salih, said Friday the chief justice of the special tribunal in charge of prosecution in Baghdad had told him that “within the next few months Saddam Hussein could be brought before the court.”

Earlier outcry
It is not the first time there has been an outcry over images of Saddam.

Pictures and video images of Saddam being examined by a medic after his arrest were widely criticized. A top Vatican cardinal, Renato Martino, said American forces treated the captive Iraqi leader “like a cow.”

But Duffy, the White House spokesman, said Friday that the military had released the photos after the arrest “to demonstrate to the Iraqi people and the insurgents that Saddam Hussein was in fact in custody, which we believed was important to help quell the insurgency.”

Although Arab television networks broadcast the pictures of naked or semi-clothed prisoners being abused by American forces at Abu Ghraib, at least one — Al-Jazeera — chose not to air the Saddam photos.

Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said the network didn’t show them for ethical and professional reasons. “The photo is demeaning to Iraqis,” he said, adding: “from a professional side, it is not news.”

“There is a big difference, because the pictures were the news in Abu Ghraib,” he said.

Dudman, The Sun’s managing editor, defended the decision to print the pictures.

“They are a fantastic, iconic set of news pictures that I defy any newspaper, magazine, or television station who were presented with them not to have published,” he said. “He’s not been mistreated. He’s washing his trousers. This is the modern-day Adolf Hitler. Please don’t ask us to feel sorry for him.”

NBC News' Hannah Hoexter and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Protecting sources


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