National Press Club

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.