Finalist, Rory Peck Award for News Features

Ali Arkady (Iraqi)

October - December 2016, Iraq

The Torture Tapes

Self-funded. Footage licensed from VII Photo Agency and broadcast on ABC News Nightline.

Ali’s footage shows members of Iraq’s Interior Ministry Emergency Response Division - a special forces unit that had been praised by the US - torturing detainees in Mosul during the campaign against IS. Ali had originally embedded with the unit to tell a good news story of sunni and shia muslims fighting together to defeat IS. But after several months he discovered they were torturing detainees and began to document the atrocities with his camera. He released his footage to ABC News after fleeing Iraq and now lives in exile. In August, an investigation by the Iraqi government concluded that clear abuses and violations had been committed by the unit. 

Watch the full entry here

* WARNING: the video clip above contains disturbing scenes and graphic content.


Ali is a photographer and photojournalist from Khanaqin, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A graduate of the Fine Arts Institution in Khanaqin, he has been working as a photographer since 2006. His photographs have been published in Iraqi media but also internationally, shown in more than a dozen exhibits in Iraq, Dubai, Georgia, and Germany. In addition to his editorial work, Ali undertakes photography and videography assignments for international and national companies as well as NGOs and relief organisations, such as the United Nations, UNHCR, Mercy Corps, IREX, and International Relief Development (IRD).

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Judges Comments

“This goes to the very heart of what it is to be a journalist: the desire to tell the truth. It was clearly a moral dilemma of the first order, to blow the whistle on the unit he’d been invited to follow. Ali couldn’t challenge what he saw on the ground; the only thing he could do was to shoot the material and get it back. He didn’t flinch in capturing these harrowing shots, and yet he was in a state of total personal vulnerability. This is truly ground-breaking journalism.”