HOT DOC: The Free Press Needs Your John Hancock

FROM ATTYTOOD: The cool graphic comes from a Web site urging that Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer Bilal Hussein, detained by U.S. forces in Iraq for 19 months, be released unless he can be charged and tried under American standards of criminal justice. The site is called, and you can sign a petition calling for Bilal’s release. I have signed it, and I urge anyone else who cares about a free press that is keeping Americans informed, and about the applying the rule of law to all people, to sign it as well. The head of the Associated Press, Tom Curley, wrote an excellent op-ed in the Washington Post this weekend:

bilal3.jpgWe believe Bilal’s crime was taking photographs the U.S. government did not want its citizens to see. That he was part of a team of AP photographers who had just won a Pulitzer Prize for work in Iraq may have made Bilal even more of a marked man. In the 19 months since he was picked up, Bilal has not been charged with any crime, although the military has sent out a flurry of ever-changing claims. Every claim we’ve checked out has proved to be false, overblown or microscopic in significance. Now, suddenly, the military plans to seek a criminal case against Bilal in the Iraqi court system in just days. But the military won’t tell us what the charges are, what evidence it will be submitting or even when the hearing will be held. [via ATTYTOOD]

PHOTO CAPTION: Bilal Hussein, a photographer for The Associated Press based in Fallujah, Iraq, visits with his brother Dr. Abdul Hadi, left, and Hadi’s daughters Ban, 14, and Batool, 7, in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday Nov. 14, 2004. Hussein went missing for several days when forced to flee Fallujah during the U.S. incursion earlier this week. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim via COMMON DREAMS)

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