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article imageWhy Is Ibrahim Jassam In Custody?

By KJ Mullins     May 24, 2009 in World
Cameraman Ibrahim Jassam has been in custody since September. Jassam works for Reuters. He is considered by the United States government to be a security risk. But is he any more of a risk than Roxana Saberi was to Iran?
Ibrahim Jassam isn't alone in being detained by the United States in a foreign land. For six years Sami al-Haj was held in Guantanamo without a trial. Sami al-Haj was a cameraman for Al Jazeera. His story, unlike Saberi's went untold for the most part by the media.
He was released in 2007 without the fanfare the Saberi case received. He was asked to spy on Al-Jazeera while in Guantanamo instead of asked about his life as a terrorist. Why? Because there was no evidence that the man was anything but a journalist.
Bilal Hussein was in prison for almost two years without being charged. Hussein is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for AP.
In the Ibrahim Jassam case five months ago an Iraqi court found no evidence that justifies his detention. He was ordered to be released. The United States has refused to recognize that court order. He is still in custody.
"Though we appreciate the decision of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in the Jassam case, their decision does not negate the intelligence information that currently lists him as a threat to Iraq security and stability," said Major Neal Fisher, spokesman for the U.S. military's detainee operations in Iraq.
"He will be processed for release in a safe and orderly manner after December 31st, in the order of his individual threat level, along with all other detainees," Fisher said in an email to Reuters.
"Since he already has a decision from the CCCI, when it is his turn for release he will be able to out-process without having to go through the courts as other detainees in his threat classification will have to do."
Jassam, 31, was arrested on September 2, 2008. Troops from both the US and Iraq came to his home in the middle of the night breaking down the family's front door. When Iraqi soldiers asked where the journalist Ibrahim was he stepped forward. The LA Times reports that one of his brothers recalls:
Ibrahim Jassam, a cameraman and photographer for the Reuters news agency, stepped forward, one of this brothers recalled. "Take me if you want me, but please leave my brothers."
They did. Blindfolding him, taking his computer's hard drive the troops handcuffed Jassam and drove away.
There are still no formal accusations that have been made against Jassam.
Jassam's brother, [url=He may well break under the pressure of being detained.,0,2581320.story t=_blank]Walid, visited him recently in Camp Bucca, the desolate, tented U.S. prison camp in the desert in southern Iraq, and found him close to the breaking point.
"He used to be handsome, but now he's pale and he's tired," said Walid, who says his brother had no ties to insurgents. "Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: 'Please do something to get me out of here. I don't know what is the charge against me.'
"I told him we already tried everything."
Reporters without Borders
has called for his release. But where is the rest of the world's outrage?
Salon reports:
Hussein’s detention is not an isolated incident. Over the last three years, dozens of journalists—mostly Iraqis—have been detained by U.S. troops, according to CPJ research. While most have been released after short periods, in at least eight cases documented by CPJ Iraqi journalists have been held by U.S. forces for weeks or months without charge or conviction. In one highly publicized case, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, a freelance cameraman working for CBS, was detained after being wounded by U.S. military fire as he filmed clashes in Mosul in northern Iraq on April 5, 2005. U.S. military officials claimed footage in his camera led them to suspect Hussein had prior knowledge of attacks on coalition forces. In April 2006, a year after his arrest, Hussein was freed after an Iraqi criminal court, citing a lack of evidence, acquitted him of collaborating with insurgents.
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