Fox News Engineer Charged With Smuggling
WASHINGTON -A television news engineer faces smuggling charges after attempting to bring into the United States 12 stolen Iraqi paintings, monetary bonds and other items, federal officials said Wednesday.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., charges that Benjamin James Johnson, 27, tried to bring the paintings into this country last Thursday. They were contained in a large cardboard box that was examined by Customs agents at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.
An affidavit filed with the criminal complaint says that Johnson, who accompanied U.S. troops in Baghdad, gathered up the paintings at a palace that belonged to Uday Hussein, one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s sons. The paintings depict Saddam and Uday.
Johnson, who initially told Customs officials he was given the paintings by Iraqi citizens, said he had planned to keep them “for decoration” and to provide one to his employer, the affidavit says. It is U.S. policy that all such items belong to the Iraqi people.