Free Bilal Hussein!

THE LONDON Freelance Branch meeting in November voted to join the campaign to release Hussein, an Iraqi photojournalist detained by US forces in Iraq for 20 months.

Bilal - one of Associated Press's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo team - was arrested by US forces in Ramadi in central Iraq and imprisoned in April 2006 when he sheltered some strangers after hearing an explosion nearby.

Since then, the US military has neither brought him to trial nor revealed the formal charges against him, and have said only that they intended to show that Bilal was a terrorist infiltrator within AP. Bilal's legal team learned some details of the allegations against him at a fourth court hearing on his case on 9 December. They received no copies of the evidence presented, and were forbidden to report any details of the hearing. David Tomlin, who leads Bilal's legal team, told Associated Press that he believes "the military's displeasure with the photographs Hussein took showing insurgent activity" has influenced Bilal's continued imprisonment. Bilal is one of eight Iraqi journalists believed to be held for more than a month without charge by the US military.

Even if the Iraqi courts decide there is insufficient evidence for a trial, the military could still lock him up again as a "security threat." Updates on Bilal are onThe Committe to Protect Journalists website.

LFB has pledged as a first step to write letters of protest on Bilal's behalf. Yunis Kuthair (also spelled 'Junus'), honorary LFB member Isam Rasheed, and more recently "fixer" Tarik Ramadan have all been released after campaigns in which the LFB played a part. See also the Editorial Photographers UK news page for updates.

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