A number of American reporters were killed or harassed as they covered trouble spots around the world.
An NBC crew was carjacked in Haiti while investigating alleged incidents of abuse by U.N. peacekeepers. An AP reporter was killed by a soldier in Sierra Leone. Reporters were detained in Gaza to stop them from covering pro-Iraq demonstrations, and a reporter was murdered in Mexico after he hiked into a remote region to report on an isolated Indian village.
NBC CREW CARJACKED IN HAITI
A "Dateline NBC" crew reporting in Haiti was carjacked at gunpoint in what one correspondent claims was a politically motivated incident intended to stop the media from completing a story on alleged atrocities committed by United Nations peacekeepers.
"Dateline" correspondent Lea Thompson and producer Mark Feldstein traveled to Haiti in October to interview an alleged victim of rape and torture by U.N. peacekeepers, a U.N. official, Haitian police and other officials. The interview was to be part of a segment on peacekeeper crimes.
Thompson, camera crew operators Bruce Bernstein and Charles Stewart and translator Kathie Klarreich were leaving the U.N. compound after interviewing Steven Dieuvit, an alleged victim of rape and torture, when four to six men blocked their car, forced them out at gunpoint and stole their vehicle.
Thompson said she thought someone who did not want the "Dateline" crew to complete the story orchestrated the carjacking. "Whether it was the (Haitian) police or the U.N., I don't know, but I do know it wasn't a bunch of thugs who came up to us and suddenly decided they wanted television equipment," she said in an AP article.
Thompson said the crew wore starched white shirts and performed the crime in an efficient, militaristic fashion, in stark contrast to what would be expected in a random theft in poverty-stricken Haiti.
Bernstein also said the assailants resembled police. However, he said, "It could have been a random thing. Four white folk driving around in Haiti with a female driver - we were an easy mark."
Klarreich, who drove the vehicle, said her first instinct was that plain clothes policemen were stopping her car to search it. "Get out. Get out," they ordered in Creole. Klarreich, who is married to a Haitian, has been in Haiti for 10 years and has been a victim of carjackingin the past, yelled "Don't touch me" at the gunman who pulled her out of the car.
Klarreich said she did not realize how serious the situation was until the gunman brushed past her and claimed the driver's seat. At that point she said she felt lucky to be alive and knew the holdup was more than random police harassment.
Thompson described the carjacking as suspect because the gunman targeted the crew's equipment, tapes and her briefcase and showed minimal interest in her jewelry or wallet. A U.N. official in Haiti said the robbers probably targeted the crew for their expensive camera equipment.
Ala Almoman, Senior Liaison Officer in the Office of the Representative of the Secretary General, was outraged by allegations that the U.N. or the Haitian police could have had any involvement in the operation. "It is very nonsense," he said. "Neither the U.N. nor the police could do such a thing."
Although Almoman said the U.N. maintains no troops in Haiti, he said it trains the Haitian police as part of the peacekeeping agreement.
Haitian Director of National Police, Pierre Denize, was involved in meetings and did not return calls. The car turned up in front of the police station with the keys still in the ignition, according to Bernstein.
Klarreich said that she was told by a justice of the peace, to whom she had gone to clear the release of her car, that Haitian authorities had opened an investigation on the crew. Authorities were considering drug charges against Thompson because she possessed a syringe as part of a bee sting kit, and child pornography charges against Klarreich because she carried a photograph of her husband and child, sitting on a bed, "covering their privates. …