BBC News wrote:Giuliana Sgrena: 'Voice of weakest'
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena never thought she would be taken hostage telling the story of the people she deeply cared for.
A toughened war correspondent, her reports filter the impact of conflict through the lives of ordinary people - precisely what she was doing in Baghdad on 4 February when she was seized by gunmen.
The former left-wing militant has often been described as an advocate of the dispossessed and the have-nots.
She once said war correspondents "make known the reality which otherwise would just be described in official war bulletins and propaganda pamphlets".
And through the life-stories of individuals - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere - Sgrena built a long career that began long before she joined her cur
rent employers at the communist newspaper Il Manifesto in 1988.
Support for weakest
The daughter of a World War II veteran, Sgrena was one of the founders of the peace movement in the 1980s.
Before joining Il Manifesto, she worked for the daily Guerra e Pace (War and Peace), but she made her name at the communist newspaper mainly through her avowed affinity with the Arab world.
"For my whole life, I have fought and written on behalf of the weakest," she said in a video put together by those who campaigned to secure her release.
With this in mind, the reporter refused to become embedded with the US military during the war - choosing, instead, to remain in Iraq on her own during the major hostilities of the spring of 2003.
She then returned to the country periodically, focusing on the suffering of ordinary Iraqis brought about by a war she was vehemently opposed to.
In a telling story, she interviewed an Iraqi woman who said sh
e was held at Abu Ghraib prison for 80 days by US forces.
Through Sgrena, Mithal al-Hassan said: "There were times when they didn't give me any water or food at all. Then, from the neighbouring cells I could hear the screams... There was no way you could sleep... I couldn't stand things any more. In the end I asked if I could write a note for my children, because I wanted to commit suicide."
Sgrena's outspoken anti-war stance should have endeared her to Iraqi insurgents fighting the US-led forces, said friends and colleagues shocked at her capture on 4 February.
In a video pleading for her release days after being abducted, the war correspondent was on the verge of tears as she said: "Nobody should come to Iraq at this time. Not even journalists. Nobody."
The message - recorded under the guns of masked men - certainly clashed with her quest for "people and social classes that are not well known, in countries that are often forg
otten, in order to describe the reality of their daily lives", said her partner, Pier Scolari.
After seeing the plea, Mr Scolari wrote to her through Il Manifesto encapsulating his feelings at the apparent transformation of his loved one.
"Dear Giuliana, in the video you seemed to me like a caged bird, with your ruffled hair and your frightened look," his message said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/e ... 321173.stm
Published: 2005/03/05 13:32:14 GMT
© BBC MMV
AFP wrote:Published on Saturday, March 5, 2005 by Agence France Presse
US Attack Against Italians in Baghdad was Deliberate: Companion
ROME - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the
shooting had been deliberate.
"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.
"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."
The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.
"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.
When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.
Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a "hail of bullets" rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killi
ng one of them.
"I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realized he was dead," said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.
"They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible," she added.
Sgrena, who was hospitalized with serious wounds to her left shoulder and lung after arriving back in Rome Saturday before noon, said she was "exhausted because of what happened above all in the last 24 hours".
"After all the risks I have been running I can say that I'm fine," she said.
"I thought that after I was handed over to the Italians danger was over, but then this shooting broke out and we were hit by a hail of bullets."
The chief editor of Sgrena's left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto Gabriele Polo meanwhile branded Calipari's death a "murder".
"He was hit in the head," he said.
will be given a state funeral Monday.
© 2005 AFP
BBC News wrote:Published on Saturday, March 5, 2005 by the BBC
Hostage Recalls 'Hail of Gunfire'
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has described how she came under a "hail of gunfire" moments after being released from her Iraqi abductors in Baghdad.
"I was especially shocked because we thought that by then the danger was past," she told Italy's Rai radio.
Ms Sgrena, who was wounded in the incident, has been sent to a military hospital in Rome for an operation.
She denied US military accounts that the car was speeding past a checkpoint when it was fired upon.
US President George W Bush has pledged to fully investigate the shooting, in which a senior Italian security agent, Nicola Calipari, died.
Ms Sgrena was abducted on 4 February. It is unclear how she was released.
lian press reports say a ransom was paid.
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of President Bush's staunchest allies, has demanded to know why US troops fired on the car carrying Ms Sgrena to safety.
"There was suddenly this shooting, we were hit by a hail of gunfire, and I was speaking with Nicola, who was telling me about what had been happening in Italy in the meantime, when he leaned towards me, probably also to protect me," Ms Sgrena told Rai radio.
"And then he collapsed and I realised that he was dead."
She said the shooting continued "because the driver wasn't even managing to explain that we were Italian".
"So, it was a really terrible thing."
Asked if the car was going too fast when the US troops opened fire, she said: "We weren't going particularly fast given that type of situation."
This is a serious diplomatic incident between the US and Italy, says the BBC's David Willey
President Bush has telephoned Mr Berlusconi to offer his condolences and apologies.
He "assured Prime Minister Berlusconi that it would be fully investigated," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
The prime minister and other dignitaries joined family members to welcome Ms Sgrena to Rome's Ciampino airport.
Walking slowly and with some help, a tired Ms Sgrena struggled to a waiting ambulance.
Her left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto says a peace rally will be held in Rome later on Saturday.
The death of one of Italy's most senior intelligence officers in the shooting cast a pall of gloom over what should have been a joyous occasion, says our Rome correspondent.
Mr Calipari is being portrayed as a national hero in Saturday's Italian press for his courage in saving Ms Sgrena's life.
A little-known militant group, Islamic Jihad Organisation, had said it kidnapped Giuliana Sgrena and
demanded that Italy withdraw its troops from Iraq.
The same group said in September it had killed two Italian aid workers, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari - but they were later released by another organisation.
© 2005 BBC
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