AP cameraman jailed without charge; U.S. continues open-ended detentions in Iraq

New York, July 15, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists protests the detention without charge of an Associated Press journalist who was seized by U.S. and Iraqi forces last month in the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

Ahmed Nouri Raziak, a 38-year-old cameraman who has worked with AP Television News since 2003, was detained at his home in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on June 4, AP reported, and is being held without charge at Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s airport.

A U.S. military review board last week ordered Raziak held for at least six more months for “imperative reasons of security,” but has not disclosed any specific allegations against him or provided any evidence as to why he is considered a security risk.

“U.S. forces in Iraq continue to ignore the most basic norms of due process by again holding a journalist without charge or explanation,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “This alarming practice continues to undermine the ability of journalists to report an already difficult and dangerous story. U.S. forces should charge Ahmed Nouri Raziak with a recognizable criminal offense and afford him due process–or they should release him at once.”

Raziak is the latest in a growing list of journalists, mostly Iraqis, who have been detained by U.S. forces and held for extended periods without charge or trial. In addition to Raziak, CPJ has documented at least nine other cases of Iraqi journalists who have been held by U.S. forces for weeks or months without charge or conviction. All were released without any charges being substantiated.

In April, AP photographer Bilal Hussein was freed from U.S. custody after two years in prison on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations that he collaborated with Iraqi insurgents. Hussein was released after an Iraqi judicial committee dropped legal proceedings against him on April 9 and ordered him freed under an amnesty law. The U.S. military then agreed to release the journalist after determining that he “no longer presents an imperative threat to security.”

“We are shocked that another AP journalist is to be held for at least six months without charges, and are awaiting information that could shed light on this strange decision,” AP Managing Editor for International News John Daniszewski said last week.