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News photographer in Iraq accused of insurgent ties

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. military says it has "irrefutable" evidence Bilal Hussein linked to insurgents
  • U.S. has detained AP photographer Hussein in Iraq since April 2006
  • His case expected to be heard in Iraqi court system later this month
  • AP says Hussein being denied due process; calls on U.S. to release him
  • Next Article in World »
From Mike Mount
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military says it has "convincing and irrefutable" evidence that an award-winning Associated Press photographer is connected to the insurgency in Iraq.

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Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein is seen in a 2005 photo.

The photographer, Bilal Hussein Zaidon, faces charges in the Iraqi Central Court based on the evidence, Pentagon officials said Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and other U.S. military officials would not say directly what charges he faced. They referred reporters to the Iraqi court system.

Hussein, an Iraqi who lives in the western Anbar province city of Ramadi, has been held without charge by the U.S. military since April 2006, when bomb parts and insurgent propaganda were found in his house after the U.S. military asked to use it as an observation post during an operation.

Hussein was already under suspicion by the U.S. military because he arrived at terrorist attack sites so quickly that they suspected he had advance knowledge of attacks, according to Morrell.

Morrell said the reason for the delay in charging the man was that "additional evidence had come to light that the man was a media operative who had infiltrated The Associated Press."

Morrell said the Iraqi court system would hold a hearing later this month to determine if there was enough evidence to continue to trial.

Hussein is being held by the U.S. military in Iraq.

AP chief executive officer and president Tom Curley said the agency has "grave concerns" that Hussein's rights are being "ignored and even abused" and called on the United States to release the photographer.

"The steps the U.S. military is now taking continue to deny Bilal his right to due process and, in turn, may deny him a chance at a fair trial," Curley said. "The treatment of Bilal represents a miscarriage of the very justice and rule of law that the United States is claiming to help Iraq achieve."

One of Hussein's photographs was among a series of 20 AP photographs that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2005. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Iraq

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