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Iraq court directs US to free photographer detained for over 2 months

[JURIST] The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) on Sunday ordered the release of Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, an Iraqi freelance photographer working for Reuters [news website] held by the US military. The court order, supplied to a Reuters' attorney [Reuters report], said the US military had no evidence to support Jassam's continued imprisonment. Jassam has been held since September in a military prison near the Baghdad airport after being detained after a raid [Reuters report] on his home in Mahmudiya.

Press groups have called upon the US military to act more quickly when reviewing cases involving journalists covering the Iraq war. A joint statement [text] on Jassam's case issued in November by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Iraqi-based Journalistic Freedom Observatory [advocacy website, in Arabic] noted that "Since the start of the US armed intervention in Iraq in March 2003, the worldwide press freedom organisation has recorded arrests of 12 people working for Reuters, all of whom have subsequently been released and their cases closed without further action." Currently, the US has the right to hold indefinitely anyone that it deems a threat until the UN mandate [UN press release] authorizing US presence in Iraq which expires on December 31, 2008. Last week, the Iraqi parliament approved a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [JURIST report] that limits the US military's ability to detain uncharged persons after its January 1, 2009 implementation.

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