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Here's an update on the case of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held in Iraq for six months without charges. Officials believe Hussein may be tied to insurgent groups, but Pentagon officials have refused to either charge or release him, despite calls from the AP for them to do so. The Pentagon recently reiterated its position in a letter to The Committee to Protect Journalists, arguing that the detention is legal according to U.N. resolutions and is in accord with the Geneva Conventions.

Now AP president and CEO Tom Curley is offering some harsh criticism of the military for its handling of the matter. "We are left to conclude that this is not an issue of a threat to American security," Curley wrote in an e-mail to Mediabisto. "It is an overt effort to stifle a free press."

As Mediabistro notes, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll told "On The Media" that the AP "found absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing that would lead us to believe his relationships were anything other than those of a native son committing journalism."

Hussein's photos reveal that he has spent time in extremely close proximity to insurgents, fueling speculation about his ties to them. His case is remarkably similar to that of former CBS News cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was held at Abu Ghraib for a year before being released for lack of evidence.

In our piece on Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, we noted that "[h]is case had been extensively covered by the Iraqi media, which meant that he was known to be linked to an American news organization. In that prison, surrounded by terrorists, that made him a target." In an essay about Bilal Hussein, Curley wrote that "[f]rom prison, he has told his attorneys that he fears he is a marked man among the detainees, who know he is a journalist working for a Western news service."

The detainment without charges of Iraqi journalists is only a small part of a larger story. The military has been accused of locking up anyone they suspect might be a terrorist, even if there is no real evidence to support doing so. Here's how Washington Post Pentagon reporter and "Fiasco" author Thomas A. Ricks described "the big cordon-and-sweep operations":

Go out and round up all the military-age males in this area and ship them out of here, and send them down to Abu Ghraib, and stuff Abu Ghraib with tens of thousands of Iraqis who may have been neutral about the Americans when they went in but weren't when they came out.
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