New York, August 25, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed Saturday’s release of an Associated Press Television News cameraman who had been held by U.S. forces in Iraq for nearly three months without charge, but it expressed alarm over the U.S. military’s continuing practice of detaining journalists without charge in Iraq.
Ahmed Nouri Raziak, 38, who has worked for APTN since 2003, was detained at his home in Tikrit on June 4. Later that month, a U.S. military review board ordered Raziak held for at least six more months for “imperative reasons of security.” No specific charges or evidence were disclosed.
“He was detained because he was believed to be a security risk. He was released when, after review, he was determined not to pose a threat,” U.S. military spokesman Maj. John C. Hall told the AP.
“We are relieved that Ahmed Nouri Raziak has been released but with his detention the U.S. military is basically saying that it can detain a journalist at will without ever having to say why, and without providing minimal due process,” said Joel Campagna, CPJ’s Middle East senior program coordinator. “This alarming practice continues to threaten the ability of journalists to report from Iraq.”
Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor, also welcomed the release, but said that the news agency was seeking more information on the basis for the arrest and the reason Raziak was held for several weeks, AP reported. She said the agency would also examine his experience during the ordeal.
Last Thursday, the U.S. military freed Ali al-Mashhadani, 39, a Reuters cameraman who had been held by U.S. forces in Iraq for three weeks without charge. Al-Mashhadani had been arrested on July 29 in Baghdad by U.S. military forces while he was in the Green Zone to renew his press card, Reuters reported.
It was the third time al-Mashhadani was detained by the U.S. military without charge. CPJ has documented several cases of Iraqi journalists held by U.S. forces for weeks or months without charge or conviction. All were released without any charges being substantiated. Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was held for two years based on vague and unsubstantiated accusations that he collaborated with Iraqi insurgents. Hussein was freed in April 2008.