Iraqi judges order release of AP man Bilal Hussein

An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him released nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military, the agency has reported.

According to AP, the decision by a four-judge panel said Hussein’s case falls under a new amnesty law. It ruled that Hussein should be “immediately” released unless other accusations are pending.

US military authorities have said a UN Security Council mandate allows them to retain custody of a detainee they believe is a security risk even if an Iraqi judicial body has ordered that prisoner freed. The UN mandate is due to expire at the end of this year.

AP President Tom Curley has demanded that the U.S. military “finally do the right thing” and free Hussein.

Hussein has been held by the US military since being detained by Marines on 12 Apri, 2006, in Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad. He has maintained he was only doing the work of a professional news photographer in a war zone.

The US military claims he was found with bomb-making material and consipired with insurgents to take photographs synchronized with an explosion.

According to AP, a review of Hussein’s work and contacts found no evidence of any activities beyond the normal role of a news photographer.

Hussein, 36, was a member of an AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005.

Curley said: ‘The Amnesty Committee took only a few days to determine what we have been saying for two years. Bilal Hussein must be freed immediately.

“The U.S. military has said the Iraqi process should be allowed to work. It has, and the military must finally do the right thing by ending its detention of a journalist who did nothing more than his job. Bilal’s imprisonment stands as a sad black mark on American values of justice and fairness.”

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