Bilal Hussein Cleared, Still Held by US in Iraq

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The good news from the Free Bilal Committee is that an Iraqi court has dismissed the terrorism charges against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered his immediate release.

But at the moment he is still held by the US Military, almost 2 years since they first detained him on April 12, 2006. It is not clear yet whether they will release him or not – they claim that a UN mandate, valid until the end of the year, allows them to hold anyone they think is a security risk whatever the courts say.

A further allegation, which appears to have no substance, has been made against Hussein over an incident in which he and two other journalists were taken at gunpoint by insurgents to see the body of a kidnapped Italian journalist.

Bilal Hussein’s case is, as the Free Bilal Hussein web site puts it, “a serious affront to the press as a whole, as well as to democratic traditions.” He was one of the AP team in Iraq to be awarded the 2005 Pulitzer prize for Breaking News Photography “for its stunning series of photographs of bloody yearlong combat inside Iraqi cities.”

Almost 2500 journalists, photographers and writers from around the world have signed the petition for his release, along with over 750 working in fields outside of journalism. Many of us have also written in print or on-line about his case and added the graphic at the top of this post which links to the petition site.

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