International Press Freedom Awards

Bilal Hussein, Photographer, The Associated Press



Bilal Hussein
37, made his mark as a photographer for The Associated Press during the 2004 battle of Fallujah. The city, a stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq and its Sunni allies, had become exceptionally dangerous for journalists. Born in Fallujah, Hussein used his local knowledge and keen intelligence to cover the critical U.S. assault on the city. His photograph of insurgents firing on U.S. soldiers helped a team of AP photographers win a Pulitzer Prize.

 

The fury of the fighting shocked Hussein. "Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the streets, wounded were bleeding, and there was no one to come and help them," he said at the time. "There was no medicine, water, no electricity or food for days." Fallujah was left in ruins and fighting moved west of Baghdad to Ramadi. It was there that the AP sent Hussein to cover deteriorating security, and it was there that he was arrested on April 12, 2006.

Although the military never explained the reason for Hussein's detention, his then-famous 2004 shot of insurgents fighting in Fallujah may have led to his detention. Arrested by U.S. Marines, he was held for two years without charge. His case illustrated the U.S. military's alarming tactic of holding Iraqi journalists in open-ended detentions without due process. CPJ has documented dozens of these detentions without charge, but no journalist spent as long in prison as Hussein.

In April 2008 two Iraqi judicial amnesty committees ruled that Hussein would not face trial on any accusations. After confirming those decisions, the U.S. military's detention command said Hussein "no longer presented an imperative threat to security." Throughout the two-year-long ordeal, the military never disclosed any evidence to support Hussein's detention. On April 16, Hussein walked free.

"I have spent two years in prison even though I was innocent. I thank everybody," said Hussein. He later left Iraq

Click here to view Bilal's video from the 2008 IPFA dinner.

2015
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)