WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- The release of a videotape of the interrogation of U.S. prisoners of war in Iraq violates the Geneva Convention, U.S. government officials and the human rights group Amnesty International said Sunday.
Al-Jazeera, the satellite television network, played the videotape in which five American soldiers including a woman identify themselves and answer questions.
The tape also shows at least six dead American soldiers on the floor of a building, one of whom appears to have been shot through the forehead.
Al Jazeera's web site Sunday showed still images of the four male prisoners but not the female, and close-up photos of some of the dead.
The Third Geneva Convention requires that prisoners of war "must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."
"Under the Geneva Convention, it's illegal to do things with prisoners of war that are humiliating to those individuals. And the United
States, of course, avoids showing photographs of prisoners of war. We have thousands of Iraqi prisoners that are in POW camps that we brought along and have erected in country. But we ... avoid showing photographs of them," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on NBC's Meet the Press.
The Pentagon asked media outlets Sunday not to use the images or identify the prisoners until their families can be notified.
Amnesty International did the same.
"Amnesty International also calls on all media to ensure in its use of images that the dignity of all prisoners of war, whether Iraqi or U.S. or other, is respected," it said in a news release Sunday.
U.S. officials called the images "disgusting" and some predicted they would only steel the will of soldiers and the American public.
Iraqi irregular forces ambushed a convoy of U.S. Army supply vehicles that apparently took a wrong turn near Nasiriyah, the site of several pitched battles Sunday. They captured or killed 12 soldiers. Four others were wounded and later evacuated by U.S. Marines.
U.S. President George W. Bush said if the prisoners are not treated humanely as is required by the Geneva Convention they will dealt with harshly.
"If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be
treated as war criminals," he said Sunday morning.
The Geneva Convention requires parties to the agreement to bring people who violate these rules to justice.
"Each party to the Convention has an obligation to search for those suspected of having committed such breaches and bring them to justice before its own courts or hand them over for trial to another party," the document states.