AP’s Curley Explains Decision To Not Ask Gen. Petraeus About Detained Photog

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By: Joe Strupp

Associated Press CEO Tom Curley said it would have been inappropriate to raise the issue of jailed AP photographer Bilal Hussein during Monday’s exclusive AP interview with U.S. Army General David H. Petraeus, held during AP’s annual meeting.

“We have efforts working elsewhere and we will stay with the ongoing effort we have,” Curley told E&P Tuesday.

Hussein has been held by the U.S. military in Iraq for more than a year without being charged. AP has made his detention a key issue in the past 12 months, keeping a page dedicated to it on its main Web page and, last fall, calling for newspapers to editorialize for his release. Curley recently confronted Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman with queries about Hussein when Whitman appeared on a panel in New York City.

But today Curley said raising the issue with Petraeus would not have helped the situation. “It is not the way to go,” he said. He also denied speculation that Petraeus had requested that no questions about Hussein be asked as a condition for his appearance. “That is nonsense,” he said. “There were no rules on either side.”

The AP executive said other efforts to gain Hussein’s release are proving positive, but declined to elaborate on them. He also said he and other top AP officials had no current plans to travel to Iraq to seek Hussein’s release.

“If I though it was worthwhile, I would go in a second,” Curley said. “That is not a way to get things fixed or make things change.”

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Related E&P story: Gen. Petraeus on Hot Seat at AP Annual Meeting in NYC

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