National Press Club Celebrates Dismissal of Charges Against AP Photographer
April 9, 2008
The National Press Club joined other journalism organizations Wednesday in celebrating the dismissal of terrorism-related allegations against an Associated Press photographer.
A judicial committee in Baghdad ordered the release of Bilal Hussein nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military.
"This is a long-overdue decision," said Sylvia Smith, president of the National Press Club. "The next step is to free him."
"Bilal is not a member of the National Press Club, but he is a brother journalist," Smith said. "When the freedoms of any journalist are curtailed, all of us are diminished.
The Associated Press, Hussein's employer, said a review of his work and contacts found no evidence of any activities beyond the normal role of a news photographer. Hussein was a member of an AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005.
A four-judge panel said Hussein's case is covered by a new amnesty law. It ordered Iraqi courts to stop any legal proceedings.
The AP reported that the amnesty committee -- or any Iraqi institution -- cannot force the U.S. military to release or turn over any of the estimated 23,000 detainees it holds in Iraq. But a provision in the amnesty law states that the Iraqi government "is committed to take the necessary measures to move the arrested people" from U.S. control.