AP Photographer caught with Al Qaeda terrorists and weapons who staged corpse photos and filed false reports defended by employers
September 21, 2006
MIM: According to AP working with terrorists,filing false reports, and staging atrocity photos should be no reason to detain anyone or be a cause to raise the question of a possible "conflict of interests". AP claims to have reviewed Hussain's reportages to see if Hussain had gotten too up close and personal with terrorists. Apparently AP operates on the ideas that a few indications of having had advance warning or been invited to take photos showing attacks on coalition soldiers is acceptable, as is photographing murder as a service to terrorist propaganda.
In a May 7th email . Army Maj.General Jack Gardner who overseas detainees wrote:
The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces,"
Being caught with Al Qaeda members and weapons is also not enough to convince the AP news service that their Iraqi employee might have been colluding with terrorists. The AP is throwing all their weight into defending Hussain. No wonder since one of his photographs were part of a 20 photo Pulitzer prize winning series. The subject? Four 'insurgents firing a mortar and small arms' as U.S. troops advanced on Fallujah.
MIM: Instead of firing their terrorist colleague, the AP is adding insult to injury by ponying up for his legal defense, with Associate legal counsel Dave Tomlin demandin that Hussain be tried or released and have his day in court. Joel SImon, The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists went one better and ' said photographing insurgents should not be cause for imprisonment.'
"There's no way to cover an insurgency without having contact with insurgents," Simon said. "If we're in an environment where any contact or documentation of activities of insurgents is cause for indefinite detention, that really puts a damper on the work of the press."
AP Calls On Pentagon To Release Or Charge Detained Photographer
Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.
But AP Associate General Counsel Dave Tomlin said Whitman didn't address the fact that Bilal has not been provided a trial:
"Mr. Whitman says it would be `up to the central criminal court of Iraq' to charge Bilal with any wrongdoing. But the Iraqi court can't do that until the U.S. military hands over Bilal and whatever evidence they have against him to Iraqi authorities," Tomlin said.
The whole situation brings to mind a similar battle between CBS and the Pentagon over the detention of Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, and it's well worth reading a full account of his story here. Abdul was detained in Iraq for a year before his case went to trial, where he was acquitted based on a lack of evidence. Interestingly, Brian Montopoli reported after Abdul's release that a new rule was instituted by the U.S. military, intended to expedite the process of bringing charges against detained journalists:
Seemingly as a result of the Hussein case, as well as other cases involving journalists detained in Iraq, the military has instituted a rule in which journalists taken into custody would be treated as "almost unique" cases, in the words of Major General Jack Gardner, with the charges against them addressed swiftly.
Regarding Bilal's case, Gardner said in an e-mail to the AP:
Bilal "has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces."
The AP argues that "the military has not provided the company concrete evidence of its claims against Bilal Hussein, or provided him a chance to offer a defense."
Scott Horton, who worked on Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein's case, has been hired by the AP to work on Bilal's case. He told the AP that "several hundred journalists in Iraq have been detained, some briefly and some for several weeks." AP executives said that "it's not uncommon for AP news people to be picked up by coalition forces and detained for hours, days or occasionally weeks, but never this long."
MIM:For a series of staged pictures taken by Bilal see the excellent reportage by News Busters "AP's Bilal Hussein appears to stage corpse photos"
Bilal or BS?