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US military to hold AP journalist pending review of Iraq order dismissing charges

[JURIST] The US will continue to hold Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein [AP materials; JURIST news archive] despite an Iraqi judicial order dismissing terrorism-related charges [JURIST report] against Hussein, a US military spokesman has said. Hussein, who has been detained in Iraq by the US for two years, was granted amnesty this week under Iraq's amnesty law [JURIST report], which effectively closes the case against him. Military officials, however, said Thursday it could continue to hold him, pending review of the Iraqi order, as military forces in Iraq are authorized to hold detainees deemed to be a security risk. On Friday, advocacy group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged the US to release Hussein [news release], saying: "The US military held Bilal Hussein for nearly two years without charging, then transferred him to the Iraqi justice system, which apparently sees no reason to detain him. It's time to set him free."

In November 2007, the US Department of Defense pushed for terrorism charges against Hussein [JURIST report]. AP has repeatedly called for his release and has accused the military of denying Hussein his due process rights. In December 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report [text; JURIST report] noting that the US was at the time detaining three journalists, including Hussein and Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj [CPJ report]. AP has more.

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