HOT DOCUMENT: HOW COULD ANY MAN WITH THIS MANY FRIENDS BE AN ENEMY?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BILAL Press Release for Journalists

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

bilalphotographer_shackled_silho.thumbnail.gifToday over 1850 professional photographers and journalists from over 90 countries sent once again a petition to the U.S. Government demanding the imediate release of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein.

Bilal Hussein was detained by US Forces in Iraq on April 12, 2006, and has been held in prison ever since without charges. This week, the US Military informed The Associated Press that they plan to seek a criminal complaint against Bilal before an Iraqi court on Nov. 29.

Despite the fact that the US Army had said to media outlets that they have “irrefutable evidence” thatfreebilalsepia_1.jpg Bilal is “a terrorist media operative” who had “infiltrated the AP” they won’t say what the charges are or what evidence will be presented.

We can only wonder why after holding Bilal for 19 months without charges they will not reveal to the AP defense lawyer the accusation or the evidence they feel so strongly about. Further, the US Army says that if the Iraqi justice system acquits him they could still throw Bilal back in jail.

A nearly 50-page report by former federal prosecutor Paul Gardephe on behalf of the AP and recently disclosed by the news agency concludes that there is no hard evidence for any of the allegations that the US Military has so far unofficially made about Bilal.

Considering the towering injustice committed against Bilal, we demand Bilal’s immediate release.

Among the signatories are Pulitzer Prize winners Al Diaz, David Leeson, Judy Walgren, Anja Niedringhaus, Alexander Zemlianichenko, Oded Balilty, Lucian Perkins, John Moore and Charles J. Hanley. Agency VII photographers Gary Knight and John Stanmeyer, Noor agency photographer Philip Blenkinsop and Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado have also signed the petition. The full list of signatures is available at www.freebilal.org

The petition, transcribed below, was first faxed on Oct. 12 to the State Department, the White House, the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Office of the Chairman of the Senatebilalphotographer_shackled_silho.thumbnail.gif Foreign Relations Committee and to the Department of Justice.

More on Bilal’s incarceration, and links to news coverage of efforts to free him, can be found at www.freebilal.org

We would appreciate it if you would consider reporting on Bilal Hussein’s situation.

Free Bilal Committee

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[Hat tip to reader Gayle Hegland for posting this in comments]

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