US Will Release Bilal Hussein

by Kevin Jon Heller


The United States military said Monday that it would release an Associated Press photographer who has been jailed in Iraq without trial for two years on accusations of terrorism and kidnapping.

The announcement came after two rulings over the previous week by panels of Iraqi judges, who said that the photographer, Bilal Hussein, was covered by an amnesty law and should be released. But such decisions are not binding on the coalition forces in Iraq, and it was not clear at first whether the military would continue to hold him.

The judicial panels did not pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of Mr. Hussein, 36, who is an Iraqi citizen. The Associated Press has insisted that he did nothing wrong, but the military made no concession on that point Monday.

“After the action by the Iraqi judicial committees, we reviewed the circumstances of Hussein’s detention and determined that he no longer presents an imperative threat to security,” Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone said in a military press release. That release said that the general signed the order to free Mr. Hussein, who will be released on Wednesday.


Officials of The Associated Press have said that Mr. Hussein was detained to keep him from taking pictures of the fighting. He was one of a team of photographers who won a Pulitzer Prize for their work in Iraq.

The military did not allow him to go before a court until last November.

Amusing — and unconvincing — spin by Major General Stone. What, the military couldn’t review the “circumstances of Hussein’s detention” on its own?

6 Responses

  1. The snipped part of the NYT quote is where the military talks about the charges against Hussein — including Hussein being in possession of bomb-making material. This was not a dispute just about taking pictures, as one might gather from the post.

  2. Last I checked, charges were not substitute for proof, of which there is little in Hussein’s case.

  3. There are two authorities for various people detained in Camp Cropper. The Iraqi Central Criminal Courts transfer all criminals there, even non-violent, non-security criminals like pickpockets, while their case is pending trial. In addition, under the grant of authority from Iraq to the MNF through the Security Council, the MNF can detain those who pose a security threat (for example, people who participate in attacks on the MNF).

    In this case, the Iraqi courts determined that the prisoner qualifed for an amnesty, so he would not be tried. Then the MNF decided that he was not a security threat, so he need not be held under their authority. Both of these independent determinations were required to release him.

    The military did review the “circumstances of Hussein’s detention” on its own, but it would not bother to do so while his criminal case was still pending. Only once the crimnal case against him was resolved was it possible to consider releasing him, and only then was a military status determination meaningful.

  4. It looks like his guilt is irrelevant anyway, as the Iraqi courts made it a moot point.

    I wonder what he’ll do now, if he is set free? His name certainly hasn’t been cleared.

  5. Where is this “little” proof argument coming from. He had bomb making material, what more do you want?

  6. “Good”? Rooting for amnestied possible terrorists now are we? I expect you to articulate the same response (“good”) for executive branch officials afforded immunity under the the MCA.

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