Jailed journalists

Perhaps the international pro-press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists should include the Philippines in its list of countries with jailed journalists (in an Associated Press article featured in http://www.truthout.org (of more specifically http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/120607I.shtml) for arresting journalists who covered the recent Manila Peninsula incident.

This will include the Philippines in a lineup of countries notorious for violating human rights like Cuba, Eritrea, Iran and Azerbaijan.

However, there is one democratic country that has jailed two journalists for years now without any charges — the United States.

According to the AP article reprinted in truthout.org:

Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held by U.S. forces in Iraq for nearly 20 months, and Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, who has been jailed for five years at the military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hussein, who was part of a team of AP photographers who shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, was seized by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2006. The military has declined to provide details of the accusations against him but has said he had links to insurgent groups in Iraq. The Pentagon recently said it intends to submit evidence against Hussein to the Iraqi judiciary system on Dec. 9.

AP executives said they have seen no evidence that Hussein was anything other than a working journalist.

Al-Haj, who is from Sudan, was detained by military forces in Pakistan in 2002 as he tried to enter Afghanistan to cover the war there. He was turned over to the U.S. military, which classified him as an enemy combatant and accused him of transporting money in the 1990s for a charity that provided funding to Chechen rebels.

Pentagon spokesmen have said in recent interviews with the AP that al-Haj’s detention had nothing to do with his status as a journalist or the content of his reporting.


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