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Iraqi Photographer Wins Award For Conflict, Torture Photos

A photo by Ali Arkady taken on November 7, 2016, shows a woman speaking with an ERD intelligence officer, after her house was bombed by Iraqi air strikes and her brother kidnapped by Islamic State, in the village of Qabr al-Abd village, near Mosul.

Iraqi photographer Ali Arkady’s grim series of images about the brutal conflict in his country has been awarded the top prize in the prestigious Bayeux-Calvados competition for war correspondents.

"They are the most sinister, upsetting pictures I have seen in my entire life," Jeremy Bowen, the head of the jury, told the AFP news agency on October 7 at the ceremony in Bayeux, France.

Iraqi photographer Ali Arkady
Iraqi photographer Ali Arkady

"The pictures were really, really strong. They were evil," he said of the photographs by the 34-year-old Arkady, who was a source of controversy at the event.

Arkady followed Iraqi special forces in Tikrit, Fallujah, and Mosul, and included in the images he took were scenes of torture and violence.

The photographer admitted to twice having participated in acts of torture allegedly carried out by Iraqi soldiers he was following out of fear of reprisals, actions he has told reporters he was "not proud" of committing.

At the ceremony, Arkady said he wanted "the Iraqi government to realize that these soldiers committed war crimes. I want to stop that, but unfortunately, it continues."

After his story was covered by ABC News, The Toronto Star, and Der Spiegel, Iraqi authorities launched an investigation into the alleged abuse.

Arkady said he received threats as a result of his reporting. Fearing for his safety, Arkady and his family fled the country.

Based on reporting by AFP and Paris Normandie