AP Photog Still In U.S. Custody — Despite Ordered Release

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By: Joe Strupp

The U.S. military will not release Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, held since 2006, unless its own review board approves the action, a spokesman said on Thursday according to Reuters.

The comments followed reports on Wednesday that an Iraqi review panel had ordered the release of Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist.

The U.S. military has claimed Hussein, an Iraqi, worked with insurgents in Iraq and has held him without charges. He was detained two years ago in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and is being held in Baghdad.

An Iraqi judicial committee ordered Hussein’s release Wednesday and dismissed terrorism-related accusations against him, the AP reported. The news cooperative said a four-judge panel ruled Hussein’s case fell under a two-month-old amnesty law.

“But Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Marshall, spokesman for U.S. military detention facilities in Iraq, said the law did not apply to people in U.S. military custody,” Reuters reports, quoting him as saying: “He is still in U.S. custody. I can confirm that.”

AP has worked since his capture for the release of Hussein, 36. The news organization had little new information today.

“If the amnesty is granted (by the Iraqi panel) on both counts, he remains in detainee status,” Marshall told Reuters. “He would then most likely be reviewed as a detainee and he would be released if not seen to be an imperative threat to the security of Iraq.”

In November, U.S. military spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner said Hussein’s case had been reviewed repeatedly by a board that reviews the files of detainees, Reuters reported. Hussein was still deemed a “security threat,” he had said at the time.

The AP said Hussein was being held at Camp Cropper, a U.S. detention facility near Baghdad’s airport.

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