Journalist released after 26 days
The US military released an Iraqi television cameraman for the Reuters news agency and other news organizations without charges on Thursday, after 26 days in detention.world Updated: Aug 22, 2008 08:47 IST
The US military released an Iraqi television cameraman for the Reuters news agency and other news organizations without charges on Thursday, after 26 days in detention. Ali al-Mashhadani, who also works for the British Broadcasting Corp and National Public Radio, had been detained twice before, including for a five-month stretch.
Al-Mashhadani was freed "because he was deemed not to be a security threat," Maj John C Hall, a US military spokesman, said in a statement. He did not elaborate.
Reuters and BBC demanded an explanation for al-Mashhadani's detention.
"If there are legitimate issues about him or any other journalist, let's have them aired openly and tested. If there are none, let them pursue their profession free from intimidation and fear," said Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger. The advocacy group Reporters Without Border demanded that the military halt what it described as arbitrary arrests of journalists in Iraq.
In April, the US military released Bilal Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer working for The Associated Press, after holding him for two years.
An Iraqi TV camera operator working for the AP in Tikrit, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was detained by US forces in June. He was recently ordered held for at least six more months.
The US military maintains that a UN mandate gives it the authority to detain indefinitely anyone believed to pose a security threat to US-run coalition operations in Iraq.
Al-Mashhadani, who is based in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, was picked up last month in the US-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad, where he was waiting to apply for press credentials. Reuters said at the time that he was taken to the US detention facility at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport.
Shortly after his arrest, US military officials said that al-Mashhadani was detained "because of a perceived security threat."
Al-Mashhadani's two previous detentions were from August 2005 to January 2006, and for two weeks a few months later. On both occasions he was released without charges.