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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 18:46 GMT
US troops 'beat' Iran journalists
Soheil Karimi (left) and Saeed Abu Taleb (right)
The men say their film will be broadcast soon
Two Iranian journalists claim they were beaten, blindfolded and tortured while held by American forces in Iraq.

Saeed Abu Taleb and Soheil Karimi - film-makers with Iran's state-run TV - were freed last week after being held for four months on suspicion of spying.

Britain played a key role in mediating between Iran, where their arrests sparked anger, and the United States.

The men said they were beaten and threatened with death, and Mr Abu Taleb said he lost some hearing in one ear.

"We could not speak to each other and only with our coughing could we understand where each of us were located," Soheil Karimi told a news conference in Tehran.

"They did not let us speak a word. Whenever we wanted to speak the soldiers used to put their guns inside our mouths."

The two men were filming near an American checkpoint at the time of their arrest on 1 July.

'Broken bones'

The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said they were transferred to a prison in British-controlled southern Iraq.

Mr Abu Taleb said that several of his chest bones were broken and he now suffered slight deafness in one ear because of the beatings.

The British embassy in Tehran and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said in a statement last week, it was "unfortunate that the two journalists had been caught up in the stringent security regime currently in place in Iraq".

"After several fatal attacks on coalition forces at checkpoints, the coalition authorities could not afford to take any chances. But we are pleased that the issue has now been resolved and the men are now on their way home," it added.

Iranians were convinced the two were held because of their nationality.

Saeed Abu Taleb is a well-known documentary-maker working for Iranian state television, and Soheil Karimi was his cameraman.

Mr Abu Taleb said his documentary, 'The Post-War Iraq', would be broadcast soon on Iraqi television.

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