Bilal Hussein

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Hussein, an Iraqi photographer for The Associated Press, was taken into custody by U.S. forces in Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, for “imperative reasons of security” on April 12, 2006, and held without charge or the disclosure of evidence of a crime.

The U.S. military alleged that Hussein had ties to insurgents. “He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive attacks, and other attacks on coalition forces,” according to a May 7, 2006, e-mail from Maj. Gen. John Gardner to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.

The military claimed Hussein’s photographs showed he had prior knowledge of insurgent attacks, allowing him to arrive at scenes of violence before they occurred. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said the news organization reviewed 900 images taken by Hussein and found no evidence that he arrived before attacks took place.

According to the AP, the most specific allegation cited by U.S. officials–that Hussein was involved in the Iraqi insurgent kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi–was discredited after the AP investigated the claim. The two abducted journalists had not implicated Hussein in the kidnapping; they had instead praised him for his assistance when they were released. The military’s only evidence supporting its claim appeared to be images of the released journalists that were found in Hussein’s camera, the AP said. Hussein’s attorney, Paul Gardephe, said the military later acknowledged that it did not possess evidence supporting the allegation, the AP reported.

In December 2007, the U.S. military referred the case to the Iraqi justice system for possible prosecution. The military cited alleged links between Hussein and Iraqi insurgents but continued to disclose no evidence to support the accusation.

Hussein shared a 2005 Pulitzer Prize with other AP photographers for their work in Iraq.