Thursday, April 12, 2007

Perspective: 1 year after arrest, Pulitzer-Prize winning AP photographer still held without charges in Iraq

Above: Iraqis carry the coffin of a U.S. airstrike victim during a funeral in Ramadi, photo by Bilal Hussein in 2005

One year after his arrest, an Associated Press photographer is still being held at a prison camp in Iraq by U.S. military officials who have neither formally charged him with a crime nor made public any evidence of wrongdoing.

Bilal Hussein was taken prisoner in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on April 12, 2006. Twelve months later, the U.S. military claims it is justified in continuing to imprison him merely because it considers him a security threat.

"April 12 is a sad anniversary for Bilal's AP colleagues worldwide," said the AP's executive editor, Kathleen Carroll. "He has now been held by the U.S. military in Iraq for an entire year without formal charges or the due process that a democratic society demands."

Paul Gardephe, the lawyer handling the case for the AP, recently returned from an extended visit to Iraq, where he spoke with military officials, journalists, Iraqi citizens and — for more than 40 hours — Hussein himself at the Camp Cropper prison near Baghdad's airport.

"Bilal has done nothing to justify a year in detention without charges," Gardephe said. "The military has not provided any credible evidence to support the various accusations of criminal conduct that it has made."

Read the rest at International Herald Tribune