It was with this mission that exactly 11 years ago, on April 5, 2010, the project made one of the revelations that would become one of the most striking: Collateral Murder. A video recorded from one of the US army helicopters present in the Iraq war, which marked the opening of the Pandora’s box on what would prove to be samples of American practices in a war scenario.
The video with approximately 40 minutes, filmed by the camera attached to an Apache’s weapon and which captures the audios inside the helicopter and the conversation between the crew, thus revealed another side of the American military operations and eliminated the doubts that had been hovering since 2007. about Baghdad. In the recording, a helicopter offensive against the city can be seen, the same that had killed two Reuters journalists, Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22 and his motorist, Saeed Chmagh, 40, and had put the news agency in a constant appeal for release of images.
Obtained through a whistleblower, which later came to be known as Chelsea Manning, and decrypted by the Wikileaks team, the recording made by the North American helicopter had, thus, 10 years ago, brought more elements to tell a very important story, that of the Iraq War , fully revealing the divergences from the official narrative. In the specific case revealed by Collateral Murder, the official version of the facts pointed to the deaths as collateral damage of a defense strategy, something that the graphic evidence immediately called into question – in the video, people are seen on the street, and it is clear that it is the pilots who identify them as insurgents, mistaking the photographer’s camera for a gun, in an unfolding event that culminated in the death of 11 people, and revealed the disconcerting relaxation with which lives are taken.
As early as 2008, Reuters, which was able to view the video but was not allowed to keep it or reveal it in public, claimed that there were “reports of clashes between US forces and insurgents in the area but there were no combat on the streets where Namir was ” is that “Believe that two or three of these men had weapons, but witnesses say that none of them had a hostile stance at the moment” – statements that gained new weight after the Wikileaks revelation. However, despite the graphic evidence that shocked a good part of the world, the United States Department of Defense continued to shirk any responsibility, revealing in a report after the video was released that journalists “Made no effort to demonstrate their statute as journalists ” is that “Their proximity to the armed insurgents (…) made them look like combatants to the Apache pilots”.
Dean Yates, the person responsible for the deployment of Reuters in Iraq at the time of the attack, interviewed last year by The Guardian, tells more about how the story unfolded and how the information was, in his view, purposely manipulated. Yates reveals that he had to give the news of the death of his colleagues and informed by the American military officials that he had reported what had happened as a result of a confrontation. “The claims that Namir and Saeed had died during an exchange of fire were all lies. But I didn’t know it at the time, so I updated my story with the statements of the American Army ”, account.
11 years after what these images are worth?
11 years have passed and much has changed in the history of Wikileaks and that of Julian Assange. After a period under house arrest, and another asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is now in one of the most sensitive moments of his trajectory.
Julian Assange, who, according to his wife, Stella Morris, a few days ago received a letter directly from Pope Francis, is in the high-security prison in Belmarsh, without charges by the British justice system, but involved in a complex extradition request for the United States of America where he faces up to 175 years in prison. Earlier this year, the court made itself heard on this matter, denying the activist’s extradition because he considered that he would put his life at serious risk, but, on the other hand, rejected his defense request to be released on bail.
Interestingly, or not, as The Guardian points out in an article a few months old, in the accusation that Assange is targeted in the United States of America – for crimes of espionage and disclosure of classified documents – there is no concrete reference to the revelation that today makes 11 years old. Instead of concrete references to Collateral Murder’s 38-minute video, prosecutors preferred, according to the report, vague allegations about Assange’s revelations. A position that is criticized by Yates but not only. Also members of the Australian Assange Campaign who, advised by lawyer Greg Barns, point to the wickedness perpetrated by an Australian ally.
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