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U.S. military frees 500 prisoners, including pair of journalists

Monday, January 16, 2006

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The U.S. military on Sunday released some 500 prisoners cleared of ties to Iraq's insurgency, including a pair of journalists who had been held for months, U.S. military officials said.

Majed Hameed, an Iraqi reporter for the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network and the Reuters news agency, was released Sunday after four months in U.S. custody, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said during a visit to Al-Arabiya's headquarters.

Ali al-Mashhadani, a photographer and cameraman for Reuters, was also freed in the mass release of 500 prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, Reuters reported. Al-Mashhadani had been jailed since August.

In Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson confirmed the two journalists were among those released after being cleared by the Iraqi and U.S. Combined Review and Release Board.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said U.S. troops detained Hameed on Sept. 15 in Anbar province. Al-Mashhadani had been held since Aug. 8, when U.S. Marines raided his home, the group said.

An Al-Arabiya reporter, Jawad Kazem, handed Kimmitt a petition signed by Dubai-based reporters asking the U.S. to release two journalists still held in Iraq -- Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, an Iraqi cameraman working for CBS News, and Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman for Reuters. Kazem uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed in a kidnapping attempt in Baghdad.

Reuters and Al-Arabiya have said Hameed's arrest appears connected to footage found on his camera by U.S. troops. U.S. officials did not give an official explanation for his detention.

U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, also still hold Sami Muhyideen al-Haj, a 35-year-old Sudanese national and assistant cameraman for Al-Jazeera, after he was detained in 2001 by Pakistani forces while trying to enter Afghanistan.


On the Net:

Committee to Protect Journalists: http://www.cpj.org


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