US refuses to free Reuters photographer jailed in Iraq

A freelance photographer being held in Baghdad by the US military will not be released until next year, despite an Iraqi court ruling that there was no evidence he was a threat to Iraqi security and stability, officials have said.

On 30 November, the Iraqi Central Court ordered the US military to release Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed from Camp Cropper prison, where he has been detained since a September raid on his home by US and Iraqi forces.

Jassam, who freelances for Reuters News and other Iraqi media, had his photographic equipment confiscated in the raid.

Reuters News editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said he was disappointed that Jassam had not been released. The US military said it was not obliged to follow the court order.

‘Their decision does not negate the intelligence information that currently lists him as a threat to Iraq security and stability,” Major Neal Fisher, spokesman for the US military’s detainee operations in Iraq told Reuters.

“He will be processed for release in a safe and orderly manner after 31 December, in the order of his individual threat level, along with all other detainees,” he added.

Fisher declined Reuters a meeting with the US commander of the prisons operations, Brigadier General David Quantock, to discuss Jassam’s detention.

‘I will not ask him to make this detainee more important than the other 15,800 detainees, when he has already made his decision,’he said.

The US military has been heavily criticised by international media right groups for refusing to deal quickly with suspicions apparently rising from the legitimate activities of reporters covering acts of violence.

In August, the US military held a freelance cameraman who works for Reuters and the BBC for three weeks without charge. It was the third time that Ali al-Mashhadani had been detained.

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