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Reuters photographer begins second year in US military detention

September 3, 2009

Reporters Without Borders condemns the continuing American refusal to release Reuters photographer Ibrahim Jassam, who today begins his second year of detention by the US military in Iraq although he has never been formally charged. Jassam is currently the only journalist held in Iraq by the US forces.

"The US military has insisted on detaining Jassam for the past year although it is withdrawing from the major cities and handing over to the Iraqi authorities," Reporters Without Borders said. "Acquitted by the Iraqi judicial system, he is being held without charge illegally. He must be freed without delay."

Jassam was arrested by US and Iraqi soldiers in the south Baghdad district of Mahmoudiyah on 1 September 2008. The Iraqi central criminal court ruled on 30 November that he had no case to answer and ordered his released. Nonetheless, he is still being held in Buki prison in Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad.

One of his sisters told Reporters Without Borders she was concerned about his psychological condition. "He was tired and depressed during our last visit," she said. "It is time he was released."

Reporters Without Borders has written several times to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of the US military forces in Iraq, requesting Jassam′s release without ever receiving a reply.

In its letter of 4 March, the press freedom organisation wrote: "The new US president has just announced the withdrawal of US combat troops within 16 months, thereby confirming a complete transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi authorities. It is now incomprehensible that the US forces should continue to defy an Iraqi court order."

For more information contact:
Reporters without Borders
Phone: 33 1 44 83 84 84

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