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Friday, January 26, 2007

NAAJA urges release of Bilal Hussein, AP Photographer from US detention in Iraq


The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein since April 12, 2006, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

"We want the rule of law to prevail," says AP President and CEO Tom Curley. "He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable." Military officials say that Hussein was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. A Pentagon spokesman reiterated that stance Sept. 18.

Hussein is a 35-year-old Iraqi citizen and a native of Fallujah. AP executives said an internal review of his work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system. Hussein began working for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained.Bilal Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide -- 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, Curley and other AP executives say, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him. More information is contained in the news stories and press materials at:

NAAJA Statement Jan. 26, 2007

The National Arab American Journalists Association members have unanimously agreed to support a call for the release of Bilal Hussein. We support the position taken by the Associated Press in calling for Hussein's release and urge other journalism associations to join in this callf or his release.

On behalf of NAAJA by Ray Hanania

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