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Old April 10th, 2008, 09:10 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default US-trained Iraqi Jurists get AP Bilal Hussein freed today! Guantanamo fallout?



An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him released nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military.

Hussein, 36, remained in custody Wednesday at Camp Cropper, a U.S. detention facility near Baghdad's airport.

A decision by a four-judge panel said Hussein's case falls under a new amnesty law. It ordered Iraqi courts to "cease legal proceedings" and ruled that Hussein should be "immediately" released unless other accusations are pending.

The ruling is dated Monday but AP's lawyers were not able to thoroughly review it until Wednesday. It was unclear, however, whether Hussein would still face further obstacles to release.

U.S. military authorities have said a U.N. Security Council mandate allows them to retain custody of a detainee they believe is a security risk even if an Iraqi judicial body has ordered that prisoner freed. The U.N. mandate is due to expire at the end of this year.

Also, the amnesty committee's ruling on Hussein may not cover a separate allegation that has been raised in connection with the case.

AP President Tom Curley hailed the committee's decision and demanded that the U.S. military "finally do the right thing" and free Hussein.

In response to a question from the AP, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said it "will be up to officials in Iraq" on whether to release Hussein. The decision, he said, will be "based upon their assessment as to whether he remains a threat."

Under Iraq's 2-month-old amnesty law, a grant of amnesty effectively closes a case and does not assume guilt of the accused.
Source

What's puzzling about this is why it had to be a civilian Iraqi court that releases him?
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Old April 14th, 2008, 04:41 AM
Steve Saunders Steve Saunders is offline
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Any developments in the few days since this was posted?
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  #3  
Old April 15th, 2008, 04:44 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default Release Set for this Wednesday!

"The US military in Iraq says it will release Associated Press (AP) photographer Bilal Hussein on Wednesday after two years in detention.

Mr Hussein, an Iraqi, was detained in western Anbar province on suspicion of working with insurgents.
He has always denied any improper links with insurgents and says he was doing his job as a journalist.
The US military's decision comes after an Iraqi judicial panel ordered him to be released under an amnesty law.

"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," Maj Gen Douglas Stone said in a statement.

'No acquittal'

However, the US military said the photographer was not being cleared of any wrongdoing."
Source.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:15 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
"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," Maj Gen Douglas Stone said in a statement.

'No acquittal'

However, the US military said the photographer was not being cleared of any wrongdoing."
Source.
Guilty, until proven innocent !

How is one to disprove something one hasn't done?

Bart
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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:37 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Some background:

"After his 2006 arrest, Hussein was interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison, but soon was transferred to the U.S. military's Camp Cropper facility. Communication with his family became difficult as phone privileges were revoked for Camp Cropper detainees. His family had to make dangerous trips from their home in Fallujah to Baghdad to visit Hussein in person.

Hussein is far from the only Iraqi who has been held for long periods of time without charge; the U.S. military is holding 23,000 security detainees, according to a recent estimate. Gardephe isn't sure if Hussein was singled out for his journalism.

"I don't know why they held him. And we'll probably never know," he says. But he says Hussein's photo of insurgents in Fallujah firing a weapon, which was part of the AP portfolio that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, may have contributed to his arrest and detention. "I think that photograph and the Pulitzer Prize put him on the radar screen, [and] made him much more prominent than his peers," Gardephe says.

"I think the case is more than Bilal Hussein," Gardephe continues. "He was part of a much larger issue, which is who is going to control the flow of information from the battlefield. I think he was someone who got caught up in the debate, and it will be a continuing debate and struggle between the media and the military."" Read the entire article in PDN here.
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  #6  
Old April 17th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein is welcomed by his
family members after being released from a U.S. military prison
in Baghdad, Iraq, April 16, 2008. The U.S. military released Hussein
on Wednesday after holding him for more than two years without
filing formal charges. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)Source


CBS news reports from Baghdad today the release of Bilal Hussein.

"Hussein, 36, was freed at a checkpoint in Baghdad, where he was taken by the military aboard a prisoner bus. He left U.S. custody wearing a traditional Iraqi robe and appeared in good health. The U.S. military had accused Hussein of links to insurgents, but did not file specific charges. In December, military authorities brought Hussein's case into the Iraqi court system for possible trial. ....."I want to thank all the people working in AP. ... I have spent two years in prison even though I was innocent. I thank everybody," Hussein said after being freed. ...AP President Tom Curley said Hussein "is safely back with AP and his family, and it is a great relief to us." .."Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who supported us during this difficult and challenging period," Curley said. "Bilal will now be spending some quiet time with his family and resting up." ...Hussein and the AP denied any improper contacts, saying Hussein was doing the normal work of a photographer in a war zone. He was detained by U.S. Marines on April 12, 2006 in Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad. ..Hussein was a member of the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005, and his detention drew protests from rights groups and press freedom advocates................"He now joins a growing list of journalists detained in conflict zones by the U.S. military for prolonged periods and eventually released without any charges or crimes ever substantiated against them," said Simon. "This deplorable practice should be of concern to all journalists. It basically allows the U.S. military to remove journalists from the field, lock them up and never be compelled to say why.""

Comment: While that may be true, that the photographer is indeed innocent, we do really not know either way, except there was no solid evidence. Catch 22!

Should we assume that the US Military is wrong in this warzone where one is not sure of anyone. To be amongst insurgents and not ransomed, shot or beheaded is pretty lucky anyway! So if not a collaborator, he is either foolhardy or very brave in his dedication to the AP news service. Maybe, if truth be known, it's an ever reforming combination of motivations. Still we live in a system of laws with checks and balances.

Getting pictures of insurgents with guns at the heads of hostages/captured enemy is bound to arouse the suspicion of the military. Certainly, the US military is used to seeing a connection between Al Queda and Al Jazeera New Service. There have been suspicions even that some of their newsmen where really Al Queda operatives. To be sure, the CIA is not likely to be innocent in that activity either. What CBS fails to do is even to consider that Bilal Hussein was indeed collaborating with "the enemy" as accused but there was insufficient evidence. When obvious staging occurs, as in the tragic Lebanon war, it was easy to see brand new dolls and children's toys in bombed areas but with no dust on the toys or else the exact same people who were "dead" in one scene, was a rescuer in another. In Bilal's case, just because one is Arab and has a name Hussein, does not mean the fellow is guilty. For sure it's easier to work with the insurgents if one speaks Arabic and is Muslim, but that's surely not evidence. What was disturbing to the US Military was the ease with which he was able have friendly access to the insurgents to set up and photograph them. There is no indication that his pictures were taken with long lenses and a possibility that there was social interaction. Again, that is no crime!

So for sure, to our way of thinking, according to civil law, a man is always innocent until proven guilty. Still, given the recent abuses in staging scenes for the press, it's perhaps not surprising that the US military would at least be suspicious.

Still the lack of critique by the CBC and AP news service to entertain any possible wrongdoing is unbalanced.

Judicial Activism or Not? Interestingly, it was the Iraqi judicial system, trained, set up and nurtured by American Jurists, that released him! That alone id pretty astonishing. It shows independent thinking for sure. Could it be a foretaste of what the US Legal system might do with Guantanimo prisoners once they are transferred to the US mainland?
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; April 17th, 2008 at 06:41 PM.
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