An Iraqi freelance photographer who worked for Reuters has been released by the U.S. military after 17 months in detention in Iraq, the news agency reported on Wednesday.
Ibrahim Jassam, who took photographs and video for Reuters, was reunited with his family shortly after his release.
“How can I describe my feelings? This is like being born again,” Mr. Jassam told Reuters by telephone. Mr. Jassam was detained in September 2008 during a raid by Iraqi and U.S. forces on his home in the town of Mahmoudiya, some 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of the capital, the London-based news agency reported.
The Iraqi Central Criminal Court ruled in December 2008 there was insufficient evidence to hold Mr. Jassam. However, the U.S. military refused to release him, saying it was not bound by the ruling because intelligence reports indicated Mr. Jassam was a security threat.
Reuters has said it inquired about the evidence against Mr. Jassam, but was told it was classified. It is not immediately known whether Mr. Jassam was ever told what evidence the U.S. military said it had against him.
“I am very pleased his long incarceration without charge is finally over,” Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said in a statement. “I wish the process to release a man who had no specific accusations against him had been swifter.”
The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Under an U.S.-Iraqi security pact, the American military is required to hand over thousands of detainees to Iraq. About 6,000 detainees in U.S. custody are still waiting to be turned over to Iraqi authorities.
Since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, the U.S. military has detained a number of Iraqi journalists working for international news organizations, including The Associated Press. None has been convicted in an Iraqi court.
In April 2008, the U.S. military freed Bilal Hussein, an AP photographer who was part of a team that received a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography from Iraq, after just over two years in detention.