Controversial movie maker Michael Moore has defended his decision not to release footage of US soldiers taunting and sexually humiliating Iraqi detainees - because he didn't want the media to use it to attack troops.

The Bowling For Columbine director obtained the footage from an unnamed freelance journalist at the beginning of the year (04) - months before shocking footage from the Abu Graib prison made headlines around the world.

Moore included the disturbing images, which include shots of US soldiers touching a detainee's erection, in his new Cannes Film Festival award-winning movie FAHRENHEIT 9/11, but has been criticised for not releasing it when he first saw it.

He says, "It was a tough decision. We were putting the film together and we were trying to decide, `What should we do here?'

"I'm at a point where I don't trust the mainstream media. I'm like most Americans at this point.

"Had I released it before I went to CANNES, this is what you (the media) guys would have said: 'He's just doing this as a publicity stunt.'

"The media in this country did us such a disservice by not asking the hard questions before we went into this war and by not putting the administration in the hot seat. That's their job.

"Instead, they played cheerleader and that did not help any of us and that did not help any of these poor kids who are over there now in this war."

21/06/2004 10:13