Kevin Sites, a freelancer who works part time for NBC News, was being kept under wraps by the network on Tuesday as the investigation into the shooting continued.

The youthful, long-haired Sites has worked for NBC, CNN and ABC News and has covered war zones in Afghanistan and Colombia.

He has extensive experience in Iraq, where he was embedded with a marines unit during the operation in Falluja.

"He is a skilled reporter, a skilled video journalist who is willing to go and chronicle the news in the difficult places, under difficult conditions," said Bill Wheatley, NBC News vice-president.

Sites handled the incident "completely professionally", Wheatley said, recognising the importance of the story and reporting its aftermath.

Web diary

While working for CNN a year ago, Sites and a crew were held captive for several hours by Iraqi fighters who accused them of being spies. His hands were bound behind his back and a machine gun round fired at his feet.

NBC said Sites handled the story
'completely professionally'

Sites left CNN, he later said, partly because the company would not let him maintain a weblog on his war reporting. CNN declined to comment on Tuesday.

There are no such problems at NBC News: Anchorman Brian Williams even promoted the name of his site at the end of Sites' Nightly News report on Monday.

His site, http://www.kevinsites.net/, contains his diary of the action in Falluja. It describes travelling with the marines and encountering bodies of dead Iraqis along the way: "This one is dressed in clean, white sneakers and athletic pants. He is on his back - his arms behind his head, his face seems nearly peaceful, content."

Reality of war

He also posts pictures of the marines on patrol and during their off hours, displaying pictures of their families and their tattoos.

Nothing was posted on the weekend Falluja mosque incident, however.

Sites has described his blog as a way for readers to understand more of the experience of being in a war zone.

"Readers want to share your adventure," he told Broadcasting & Cable magazine last summer.

"What you see in the paper or on TV tends to be the cleaned-up version. I didn't tell you I had to sleep in the dirt to tell a story for TV."