17 September, 2006

Mordechai Vanunu - Bilal Hussein

"In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, acting out of conscience, revealed to the world that Israel had a nuclear weapons program. Sentenced to 18 years in prison, the first 12 years in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, and eventually was released in April 2004, having completed the entire 18 years. Upon his release, the Israeli Government imposed draconian restrictions on his freedom. He is forbidden to speak to foreigners or foreign press or to leave Israel. Each year for the past two years, on the 2lst of April, these restrictions have been renewed and Vanunu remains a virtual prisoner, living within a couple of square miles of East Jerusalem and under constant security surveillance everywhere he goes.

". . . the Israeli Supreme Court [held] hearings on Vanunu's restrictions on 6 September 2006. . . . The attorney for the State came to the Court with four or five men, secret expert witnesses from the Secret Services and from the secret Israeli Nuclear Committee, to give the three judges a testimony behind closed doors, without Mordechai and his lawyers present, as they have done in the previous discussions in the Supreme Court." Mordechai Vanunu

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The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

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.

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year."

"We want the rule of law to prevail. He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable,'' said Tom Curley, AP's president and chief executive officer. "We've come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable under Iraqi law, or Geneva Conventions, or any military procedure."

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide - 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom."

. . . Hussein . . . believes he has been unfairly targeted because his photos from Ramadi and Fallujah were deemed unwelcome by the coalition forces. [snip]

"One of Hussein's photos was part of a package of 20 photographs that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography last year. His contribution was an image of four insurgents in Fallujah firing a mortar and small arms during the U.S.-led offensive in the city in November 2004." [snip]

. . . he stayed on after his family fled. ``He had good access. He was able to photograph not only the results of the attacks on Fallujah, he was also able to photograph members of the insurgency on occasion,'' Lyon said. ``That was very difficult to achieve at that time.'' [snip]

Out of Hussein's body of work, only 37 photos show insurgents or people who could be insurgents, Lyon said. ``The vast majority of the 420 images show the aftermath or the results of the conflict - blown up houses, wounded people, dead people, street scenes,'' he said.

Only four photos show the wreckage of still-burning U.S. military vehicles. [snip]

Executives said 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. Several hundred journalists in Iraq have been detained, some briefly and some for several weeks, according to Scott Horton, a New York-based lawyer hired by the AP to work on Hussein's case.

Horton also worked on behalf of an Iraqi cameraman employed by CBS, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was detained for one year before his case was sent to an Iraqi court on charges of insurgent activity. He was acquitted for lack of evidence. [snip]

Horton said the military has provided contradictory accounts of whether Hussein himself was a U.S. target last April or if he was caught up in a broader sweep. [snip]

Hussein has been a frequent target of conservative critics on the Internet, who raised questions about his images months before the military detained him. One blogger and author, Michelle Malkin, wrote about Hussein's detention on the day of his arrest, saying she'd been tipped by a military source.

Guardian

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