Bilal Hussein Should Be A Free Man Soon

Posted Apr 13, 2008 by KJ Mullins
The story of a journalist for the AP has finally got a bit of good news. An Iraqi judicial panel has dismissed all criminal allegations from Bilal Hussein and ordered his release after a detainment of two years and one day with the U.S. military.
The Federal Appeals Court has granted Hussein amnesty on the allegations that the photographer had improper contacts with insurgents who killed Salvatore Santoro.
In December 2004 Hussein and two other journalists were taken by gunpoint to photograph Santoro's corpse.
The decision made by the panel demands that Hussein be released immediately by the U.S. unless they can prove he has a connection with something else.
The U.S. military has made allegations that Hussein was in co-operation with terrorists and had bomb making materials in his home.
The Pulitzer Prize winning photographer has maintained his innocence throughout his detention. He states that he was only doing his job in a war zone.
The ruling of amnesty closes the case under amnesty law. Hussein has never been taken to trial by the United States.
"We are grateful for the decision of the Amnesty Council and the Iraqi judges," AP President Tom Curley said after the ruling Sunday. "We look forward to Bilal's safe return to his family and to AP."
Hussein has been in United States custody since April 12, 2006 when he was arrested at the apartment he was staying at in Ramadi. He was eventually transferred to Camp Cropper in Baghdad. He has since that time been allowed visits from defence lawyers, family representatives and representatives of the AP.
In December 2007 the United States military referred his case to an investigating judge who after reviewing the case turned it over to the amnesty panel.
The AP has been following the case of their friend and employee. They have made extensive reports on his case. At no time in their investigation was the man who won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005 found guilty of any activities beyond the normal role of a news photographer.
His detention has been widely reported and drawn protests from rights groups and press freedom advocates.
I, myself have been following his case for several months and am very happy that the light at the end of a long tunnel seems to be shining a little brighter. Hopefully Hussein can soon return to reporting the news by his photography skills.