Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer in
Railroading A Journalist In
By Tom Curley
At long last, prize-winning Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein may get his day in court. The trouble is, justice won't be blind in this case -- his lawyer will be.
Bilal has been imprisoned by the
We believe Bilal's crime was taking photographs the
In the 19 months since he was picked up, Bilal has not been charged with any crime, although the military has sent out a flurry of ever-changing claims. Every claim we've checked out has proved to be false, overblown or microscopic in significance. Now, suddenly, the military plans to seek a criminal case against Bilal in the Iraqi court system in just days. But the military won't tell us what the charges are, what evidence it will be submitting or even when the hearing will be held.
Not that former federal prosecutor Paul Gardephe, Bilal's attorney, hasn't asked. The conversation went pretty much like this:
When will the court hold its first hearing? Sorry, can't tell you, except it will be on or after Nov. 29. Since we're trying to be cooperative, we will let you know the exact date at the day of the hearing, if you're in
What will Bilal be charged with? Sorry, can't tell you. The Iraqi judge who hears the evidence is the one who decides what charges will be filed.
What evidence will the judge be basing that decision on? Sorry, can't tell you. In the Iraqi court system, we don't have to show our specific evidence until after we file the complaint with the court.
Will Bilal be allowed to present evidence refuting your evidence that we can't see in advance? We don't know. He might be. Ask an Iraqi lawyer if you don't know how this works.
It's almost like a bad detective novel: Go to the phone booth at Third and Jones at in the morning and wait for a call for further instructions. How is Gardephe to defend Bilal? This affair makes a mockery of the democratic principles of justice and the rule of law that the
A year ago, our going to trial would have been good news. But today, the military authorities who created the case against Bilal have largely been rotated out of
A similar story is told in Michael Tucker's grimly funny and also just grim documentary