Giuliana Sgrena

Giuliana Sgrena

Giuliana Sgrena (born December 20, 1948) is an Italian journalist who works for the Italian communist newspaper "Il Manifesto" and the German weekly "Die Zeit". While working in Iraq, she was kidnapped by insurgents on 4 February 2005. After her release on March 4, 2005, Sgrena and the two Italian intelligence officers who had helped secure her release came under fire from U.S. forces while on their way to Baghdad International Airport. Nicola Calipari, a Major General in the Italian military intelligence service was killed, and Sgrena and one other officer were wounded in the incident. The event caused an international outcry.

Background and career

Giuliana Sgrena was born and raised in Masera, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, a town of fewer than 1000 people that had seen intense fighting during World War II between Italian partisans and German soldiers. Her father, Franco Sgrena, was a noted partisan during the war and later became an activist in the communist railway union.

Sgrena studied in Milan where she became involved in leftist politics. She became a professed pacifist and from 1980 worked for "Guerra e Pace", a weekly publication edited by Michelangelo Notarianni.

In 1988, she joined the communist paper "Il Manifesto" and, as a war correspondent, has since covered conflicts such as the Algerian Civil War, the Somalian and the Afghanistan conflicts. During her travels, she reported extensively on topics from the Horn of Africa, the Maghreb and the Middle East.

As a campaigner for women's rights, she has been particularly concerned with the conditions of women under Islam. About this topic she wrote "Alla scuola dei Taleban" ("At the Taliban's school"), ISBN 88-7285-266-8.

Like many Italians, she opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. At the start of the war she went to Baghdad to cover the bombing of that city, for which work she was awarded the title "Cavaliere del Lavoro" on her return to Italy.

The kidnapping

Sgrena was kidnapped outside Baghdad University by gunmen in February 2005. In an article from March 2003 she had spoken openly about her concern for the security situation in Baghdad and her fear of being kidnapped.ref|1

Allegations of imprudence

Harald Doornbos, a Dutch war reporter traveling with American forces, wrote that while on a flight to Baghdad he told Sgrena to be careful of kidnappers, to which she responded “That won't happen. We are siding with the oppressed Iraqi people. No Iraqi would kidnap us”. Sgrena and her companions went on to explain that they were in no danger from Iraqi insurgents saying that Doornbos did not "understand the situation. We are anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, communists, the Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers, the enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear."ref|2

Conversely, anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein reported that Sgrena was "fully aware" of but willing to take "tremendous risks" in order to document the warref|3. Sgrena defended her decision to risk kidnapping as a necessary part of working as an unembedded reporter in a warzone. She points to her reporting on such critical incidents as the Second Battle of Fallujah, where, she argues, only unembedded reporters were able to report the level of destruction in the city and the ferocity of urban warfare, which according to her included the use of napalmref|4.

She was later shown in a video pleading that the demands of her kidnappers, the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq, be fulfilled. Her release was subsequently negotiated and she was freed on March 4, 2005.

Vauro's campaign

During the whole month-long captivity, the satirical artist of "Il Manifesto" Vauro maintained an uninterrupted focus on Sgrena, independently from any Italian political issues. His [ drawings] typically featured a dove, symbol of peace, that was supposed to bring Sgrena back; some of the drawings were sad, some tried to be more cheerful, depending on the current hopes of retrieving Sgrena alive. In one occasion he wrote an appeal in Arabic to the kidnappers: "Give us Giuliana back, because I want to go back mocking Berlusconi!". After one month, the series came to an end with Sgrena's liberation and Calipari's death: the dove, now likely symbolising Calipari, returned mortally wounded.

Rescue and incident

After being rescued by Nicola Calipari and another SISMI agent, Ms Sgrena was being transported by car to Baghdad International Airport. However, a roadblock, put in place to protect John Negroponte's car convoy, fired on the vehicle, causing the death of Calipari and the wounding of Sgrena and of the other agent. Sgrena testified that US forces fired on the car without warning, and this incident caused strain in diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States.


In a November 2005 RAI documentary, "Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre", Sgrena declared that the U.S. had used white phosphorus and napalm in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury ref|5.

On June 26, 2006, Sgrena offered to meet with Spec. Mario Lozano, the New York City National Guardsman who had shot at her car. []

Picture, claimed to be of the car


*cite news | title=Nur keine falsche Bewegung | date=2004 October 11 | publisher=Die Zeit | url= languageicon|de|German
*cite web | url= | title=About Giuliana Sgrena | work=Zacht Ei | accessmonthday=22 April | accessyear=2005 The link referring to the Dutch article is incorrect, but the article can be found at [ Nederlands Dagblad's Web page] .
*cite web | url= | title=Naomi Klein Reveals New Details About U.S. Military Shooting of Italian War Correspondent in Iraq | work=Democracy Now | accessmonthday=5 September | accessyear=2005
*cite news | title=Napalm Raid on Falluja? | date=November 23, 2004 | publisher=Il Manifesto | url=
*cite news | title=Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre | date=November 8, 2005 | publisher=RAI | url= languageicon|it|Italian

External links

* [ Italian Hostage, Released in Iraq, Is Shot and Wounded by G.I.'s] (NY Times March 5, 2005, registration needed)
* [ Photos taken by Giuliana Sgrena] (Il Manifesto) languageicon|it|Italian languageicon|ar|Arabic
* [ Giuliana Sgrena profile] (BBC)
* [ CNN] [,12576,1433441,00.html Guardian] Giuliana Sgrena's statement after her release
* [ Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet] , 28 March 2005, "No Checkpoint, No Self-Defense"
* [ CBS 60 Minutes Interview] , April 13, 2005, "Italian Journalist: U.S. Lied"
* [ Interview with Giuliana Sgrena] "Democracy Now!", 27 April 2005, "Giuliana Sgrena Blasts U.S. Cover Up, Calls for U.S. and Italy to Leave Iraq"
* [ US military report on the incident including uncovered redacted portions]
* [ U.S. military checkpoints in Iraq lack basic safety measures, say Human Rights Watch and CPJ] - IFEX

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  • Giuliana Sgrena — (* 20. Dezember 1948 in Masera, Piemont) ist eine italienische Journalistin. Seit 1980 schrieb sie für die Wochenzeitung Pace e Guerra, ab 1988 arbeitet sie für die kommunistische Tageszeitung il manifesto. Sgrenas Artikel werden auch in der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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