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House arrest for Australian media

HMAS Kanimbla, pictured, is one of several Australian warships currently operating in the Persian Gulf.
HMAS Kanimbla, pictured, is one of several Australian warships currently operating in the Persian Gulf.

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- Iraqi authorities have detained two Australian journalists outside the southern city of Basra and placed them under house arrest in Baghdad, a spokesman for their newspaper says.

And a third journalist from Australia has been expelled by Iraqi authorities for his reporting of a missile strike on the capital, his newspaper reported.

Australia has committed around 2,000 troops, plus warships and fighter aircraft to the Coalition forces fighting in Iraq.

The Australian newspaper's London correspondent, Peter Wilson, and Canberra-based photographer John Feder were missing near Basra for about 30 hours before they contacted their paper to say they had been detained at a hotel in Baghdad.

"They are not allowed to leave the hotel, their phones have been confiscated and they are not allowed to file," the Australian's national security editor, Patrick Walters, told Reuters. The pair were well, he added.

"We are now waiting to see if they will be expelled or if some other penalty will be imposed."

Wilson and Feder, who had been in Iraq for about four days, were arrested by Iraqi authorities Monday. A number of other journalists of various nationalities were also under house arrest in Baghdad, in the Meridien Palestine hotel, Walters said.

No further details were available.


A journalist from Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Ian McPhedran, was expelled from Baghdad after filing an eyewitness report on a U.S. missile strike on Iraq's Information Ministry, his newspaper reported.

The tabloid said McPhedran took a taxi ride to the Jordanian border Tuesday, traveling through villages as they were bombed by U.S. warplanes and passing smoldering Iraqi military vehicles.

"You must get out, you have broken the rules," an Iraqi official was quoted as telling McPhedran, employed by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd. The Australian is also in News Ltd's stable.

"You will pack your bags, pay your bills and get out. You will leave my country immediately," the official said.

McPhedran said in a report in the Daily Telegraph that he went with a South African colleague to cover the attack on the Information Ministry.

He said he received permission from an official to go to the site but failed to convince more senior officials to allow him to stay on in the Iraqi capital.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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