Monday, January 16, 2006

Reuters journalists among 509 detainees freed in Iraq

Agence France Presse
Jan 15, 2006

The US military has freed 509 Iraqi detainees from three prisons in Iraq, including two journalists who work for Reuters, the justice ministry and the British news agency said.

The prisoners had been held for several months without charge at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, at Camp Bucca, a US jail in southern Iraq, and at Camp Suse near to the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

"The US military freed all the prisoners this morning," said a spokesman for the ministry, adding that they had been cleared of terror-related charges.

US-led coalition forces are still holding more than 12,000 Iraqis in prisons across the country on suspicion of taking part in the insurgency that has plagued Iraq for almost three years.

Reuters welcomed the release of television cameraman Ali al-Mashhadani, who was arrested in August, and correspondent Majed Hameed, who was taken in September. Hameed also works from the television channel Al-Arabiya.

Both men are based in the restive Sunni-stronghold of Ramadi in western Iraq. They were held at both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, Reuters said.

The news agency voiced concern at the length of time its employees were detained without charge.

It also noted a third man, Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman for Reuters, remained in custody. Iraqi troops arrested Noor seven months ago at his home in Tal Afar, northern Iraq, the London-based agency said.

"We are delighted that Ali and Majed are now free although we continue to have grave doubts about the way in which they were held for so long without charge," David Schlesinger, Reuters Global Managing Editor, said.

"We hope that Samir will also be able to rejoin his family soon."

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