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US military frees AP photographer

world Updated: Apr 16, 2008 23:19 IST

The US military on Wednesday freed an Iraqi photographer working AP after detaining him for two years on accusations of aiding terrorism in the country, a military official said.

Bilal Hussein, 36, was “turned over” to members of his organisation by US military officials at 3.45pm (12.45 GMT) on Wednesday, Major Matt Morgan from US detainee operations in Iraq said.

Hussein, who was part of an AP photo team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, was released after the US military conducted a review and concluded that he was no longer a threat to the country.

“The turn over was at an entry checkpoint near Camp Victory near the Baghdad airport,” Morgan said referring to a key American military base in the capital. Hussein had been detained since April 12, 2006, after he was arrested in Ramadi, 100km west of Baghdad.

Hussein’s release came after the Iraqi judicial system granted him amnesty. On Monday, Major General Douglas Stone, head of US detainee operations in Iraq, said: “After the action by the Iraqi judicial committees, we reviewed the circumstances of Hussein’s detention and determined that he no longer presents an imperative threat to security.”

The US military had accused Hussein of being a “terrorist media operative” and said he had aroused suspicion because he was often at the scene of insurgent attacks as they occurred.