For nearly 19 months, the has held Bilal Hussein, right, an Iraqi Associated Press photographer, in detention for allededly taking part in insurgent activities, including making bombs.
Hussein, who was seized by the military in April of 2006, is now caught in a battle not only for his freedom, but for the rights of a free press. The government alleges that Hussein had links to terrorists and that an Iraqi court to decide his fate. AP, meanwhile, feels they have sufficient evidence to counter the allegations.
The ramifications of Hussein's trial will be far-reaching. At issue here, beyond the photographer's life and livelihood, is how the U.S. press has become so extraordinarily dependent upon native in-country staffers and stringers for its news. It's not clear how well Americans really understand how much of the news is actually produced by foreign journalists. Typically, wire services, in places like Iraq, have to outsource their news gathering capabilities, especially photojournalism, to people with better command of the language and the culture.
The at the core of this issue is one of trust and credibility. In August 2006, for instance, Reuters discovered that one of its stringers, Adnan Hajj, had manipulated images during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in Lebannon. The Hajj incident has had the effect of placing doubt in the minds of an already skeptical public about the authenticity and credibility of the news we receive from overseas. Utlimately, it is hoped that justice and truth will prevail -- however, in times of war -- both of these ideals are at risk when power and politics are at stake.