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The U.S. military plans to seek a criminal case in an Iraqi court against an award-winning Associated Press photographer but is refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.
An AP attorney on Monday strongly protested the decision, calling the U.S. military plans a "sham of due process." The journalist, Bilal Hussein, has already been imprisoned without charges for more than 19 months.
Calls for his freedom (continued)...
Soon after Hussein was taken into custody, the AP appealed to the U.S. military to either release him or bring the case to trial -- saying there was no evidence to support his detention. However, Tomlin said that the military is now attempting to build a case based on "stale" evidence and testimony that has been discredited. He also noted that the U.S. military investigators who initially handled the case have left the country.
"This makes it impossible to put together a defense," said Gardephe, who is leading the defense team and plans to arrive in Baghdad next week. "At the moment, it looks like we can do little more than show up ... and try to put together a defense during the proceedings."
One of the photos of insurgents in combat _ taken in Fallujah on Nov. 8, 2004 _ was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning submission by the AP. It shows one insurgent firing a machine gun, while another holds an ammunition belt and a third apparently had just fired a mortar. According to the AP report, Hussein took this photo from a nearby furniture store, and the insurgents were not aware of his presence.
_The report rejected the military's contention that Hussein possessed bomb-making materials. Gardephe said this allegation appeared to be based solely on the fact that Hussein, after being arrested at his Ramadi apartment, was taken to an electrician's shop on the ground floor and photographed next to equipment and broken appliances.
_Gardephe said he uncovered no evidence that Hussein provided false identification to anyone. He noted that false IDs are readily available from numerous sources in Iraq. Many Iraqis carry false IDs to conceal their religious affiliation, which has been used as a pretext in sectarian killings.
_At the time of his arrest in Ramadi, Hussein had two guests in his apartment, one of them an alleged insurgent leader named Abu Moadh. According to the AP report, Hussein said he had never met Abu Moadh before that day, and had offered him refuge in his apartment during a chance encounter on the street as people were fleeing from a bombing nearby.
(AP) link pending