Iraq - United States - Letter to Robert Gates on first anniversary of AP photographer Bilal Hussein's arrest



    MONTREAL, April 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders wrote today
to US defence secretary Robert Gates condemning the detention of Associated
Press photographer Bilal Hussein at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad, for the past
12 months.
    "We understand Hussein may be suspected of links with Iraqi insurgents,"
the letter said. "It is true that he was not an 'embedded' journalist and that
he approached and photographed insurgents. He was arrested with two
insurgents, but that does not constitute proof of his involvement in criminal
activity.
    "Many journalists have been arrested by the occupying forces since the
start of the war. Some have been held for months before being released without
charge. There is no justification for holding Hussein, who - according to his
lawyer, Paul Gardephe - has not been interrogated since May 2006. It is,
furthermore, unacceptable that he is being kept in detention as a result of
decisions reached by review panels without him or his lawyer being able to
attend."
    The letter added: "According to a Pentagon spokesperson, these panels
recommended that he should continue to be held because he represented 'an
imperative threat to security.' If he has committed a crime, he must be handed
over to the Iraqi authorities and evidence of his guilt must be made public.
If not, he must be released immediately."
    Aged 35, Hussein had been working for the AP for more than a year when he
was arrested in Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, on 12 April 2006. His arrest
was due to his physical proximity with insurgents, who had given him
permission to take photos of them.

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Canadian office representative,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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