|Born||c. 1961 (age 52–53)
Bronx, New York City
Edward Caraballo (born c. 1961) is an American videographer and investigative photojournalist, specializing in covert photography. He was arrested in Afghanistan in 2004 while documenting the exploits of a vigilante group led by U.S. mercenary Jonathan "Jack" Idema. Caraballo was implicated as an associate of Idema and was charged with entering the country illegally (later dropped), running a private prison, and torture. He was sentenced to an eight-year prison term (later reduced on appeal to two years) and incarcerated in Afghanistan's Pul-e-Charkhi prison.
Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Caraballo insisted that he was not involved in the alleged torture, and that he was officially embedded in what he believed was a legitimate military operation.
While in prison, Caraballo sought to distance himself from Idema and eventually converted to Islam. He has said his conversion was initially a survival tactic in prison in order to gain the respect of Afghan inmates.
There was at least one attempt on his life while he was incarcerated and that he was almost lynched during a prison riot started by other inmates with suspected links to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Caraballo used a satellite phone to call CNN journalist Anderson Cooper as the riot was occurring to say his life was in danger. One prison official, claiming that Caraballo was "never in danger" during the riot despite threats made against him, questioned why he refused to accept offers of protection and emerge from his cell. However, Caraballo has emphatically stated that he refused to leave the relative security of his cell because of the chaotic and dangerous situation still happening inside cellblock. Still, Caraballo managed to make peace with one of the prisoners whom he said had tried to seize the prison and helped teach a few inmates and guards some English.
Caraballo has worked for most of the major broadcast news outlets in the U.S., including, ABC News, CBS News, CNN and National Geographic. In 1992 and 1993, while working for WWOR-TV's "I-team" with reporter Joe Collum and producer Gary Scurka, Caraballo won four local Emmy awards: the "Outstanding Editing" award at the 35th Annual New York Emmy Awards and three awards at the 36th Annual New York Emmy Awards one for "Outstanding Single News Feature" (as a producer for a piece entitled "HOT SPOTS (PT.1)" on the Channel 9 News, November 21, 1991), one for "Outstanding Issues Programming"(as a producer for a documentary called "Crime Chronicles," and one for "Outstanding Editing". He is currently working on a documentary film and book about his experiences in Afghanistan.
- "Keith Idema's Operation Desert Fraud". New York Magazine. 2004-10-04. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
- Constable, Pamela (2004-08-17). "U.S. Knew All About Private Jail in Kabul, American Tells Court". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2004-04-03.
A second American suspect, Edward Caraballo, testified quietly that he had acted only as a journalist and had accompanied Idema here to film his operations. He said he was "very sorry for any pain I caused the people of Afghanistan by my involvement in a mission I believed to be sanctioned by the American and Afghan governments."
- "American jailed in Afghan prison scandal says he will be freed 2 months early". USA Today. 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees". CNN broadcast transcript, February 28, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
Caraballo gave up the relative comfort of that cell and began distancing himself from Idema. He converted to Islam and moved to a different cell block, one that was taken over by the rioters.
- Gall, Carlotta (July 24, 2005). "Journalist Jailed for a Year in Kabul Feels Abandoned by U.S. as He Seeks Ways to Survive". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- Gall, Carlotta (2006-05-01). "Karzai's Holiday Pardons Set an American Free". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
- Barker, Kim (2006-03-19). "Afghan jailers want to unload gang of three Americans". Chicago Tribune (The Rutland Herald). Retrieved 2007-04-03.
He pretended he was one of those guys," said Gen. Abdullah Azizi, who helps manage prisoners. "I don't know if he was mentally ill or what, or if he just wanted to show off. I tried to give him an opportunity to come out. I called his mobile phone and said, 'Come out.' I said we'd take care of him and separate him from the others. He didn't come. He just hung up the phone.
- "35th Annual New York Emmy Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- "36th Annual New York Emmy Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-06-03.