Iraq asks U.S. to return millions of archive documents
By Aseel Kami
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's national archive has asked the United States to return millions of historical documents seized by U.S. troops in the mayhem that followed the U.S. invasion in 2003, along with its Jewish archive.
The papers include intelligence reports on Iraqis kept by Saddam Hussein's dreaded secret police, detailed plans for massacres of his regime's enemies and information on weapons arsenals, said Saad Eskander, director of the Iraqi national library and archives.
The Jewish archive, found soaked in sewage in the basement of Saddam's intelligence service headquarters in Baghdad, was taken to the United States for restoration under an agreement between the two countries and will be returned to Iraq.
Iraqi and U.S. officials met recently in California for talks on the documents.
"This was the first time that Iraq presented an official demand to retrieve all the documents, not only the Jewish archive," Eskander told Reuters in an interview this week.
The documents include historical, political and legal papers, some of which may be needed to solve crimes and charge suspects, he said.
"These documents are sensitive ... no less important than the antiquities, if not more important," Eskander said.
The archive documenting Jewish history in predominantly Muslim Iraq contains books, documents and a codex of the Torah. Continued...