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Iraqi AP photographer to be freed

Latest update : 2008-04-15

Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi photographer working for the Associated Press, will be released on Wednesday after being held by US military for more than two years on suspicion of aiding insurgents.

An Iraqi news photographer who has been held for more than two years on suspicion of aiding insurgents will be freed this week following an amnesty ordered by Iraqi authorities, the US military said Monday.

  

Bilal Hussein, a photographer with the Associated Press, will be released from US military custody on Wednesday, the US military command in Baghdad said in a statement.

  

"After the action by the Iraqi judicial committees, we reviewed the circumstances of Hussein's detention and determined that he no longer presents an imperative threat to security," said Major General Douglas Stone, the deputy commander for detainee operations.

  

"I have therefore ordered that he be released from coalition force custody," Stone said.

  

Hussein was detained April 12, 2006 after marines entered his house in Ramadi to establish a temporary observation post and allegedly found bomb-making materials, insurgent propaganda and a surveillance photograph of a US military installation.

  

The US military presented evidence against him to an Iraqi investigative judge in November, 2007 and Bilal was referred to trial last month on a charge terrorism, as well as a new Iraqi charge of kidnapping.

  

But the terrorism charge was dismissed April 7 by an Iraqi judicial committee responsible for implementing an amnesty law, and the kidnapping charge was dismissed by a separate judicial committee on April 13.

  

AP executives, defending Hussein as a journalist doing his job, have argued that the US military detained Hussein because his photographs showed things they did not want the public to see.

  

Hussein was part of an AP photography team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for their coverage of the Iraq war.

  

AP president Tom Curley expressed gratitude for the Iraqi rulings.

  

"We look forward to Bilal's safe return to his family and to AP," he said in a statement Sunday.

Date created : 2008-04-15

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