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Supporters of AP photographer mark 18-month anniversary with petition to US

NEW YORK: Supporters of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held without charge by U.S. officials in Iraq for 18 months, marked the year-and-a-half anniversary Friday by presenting an online petition with 1,500 signatures to several top federal officials, organizers said.

In a letter faxed Friday to the White House, U.S. State Department, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Office of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Department of Justice, supporters urged that Hussein be released and offered the petition.

“Today nearly 1,500 professionals from the journalism field sent a petition to the U.S. Government demanding the release of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein,” the letter began. “Bilal Hussein was detained by US Forces in Iraq on April 12, 2006, and has been held in prison ever since without charges.”

Organizers of the group, named the Free Bilal Committee, claim that the signatores have included Pulitzer Prize winners Al Diaz, David Leeson, Judy Walgren, Anja Niedringhaus, Alexander Zemlianichenko, Oded Balilty, Lucian Perkins, John Moore and Charles J. Hanley. A full listing can be found at: www.freebilal.org.

The petition states:

“On April 12, 2006, Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was detained by the US Forces in Iraq and has been held in prison ever since.

No formal charges have been presented yet against Bilal, who is behind bars for having the courage to photograph Iraqi insurgents. Bilal was part of an AP team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for its coverage of the Iraq war.

Bilal’s arrest and imprisonment are a serious affront to the press as a whole, as well as to democratic traditions.

We, almost 1,5000 colleagues from over 80 countries, are seriously concerned for the life of Bilal Hussein, especially in view of the amount of time he has already been locked up and the prison conditions to which he is being subjected.

For these reasons we demand his immediate release.”

In addition, Reporters Without Borders also marked the anniversary with yet another call for Hussein’s release.

“As a result of its incomprehensible behavior and stubbornness in portraying Hussein as a terrorist, the United States is violating his rights as a detainee and defying international humanitarian standards,” the group stated in a statement Friday. “Hussein’s involvement in criminal activity has never been proved, so what is he still doing in prison?”

Date posted: October 12, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 452