Bilal Hussein, photographer for the Associated Press News Agency (AP), and native of Fallujah (Iraq), is awarded the Miguel Gil Moreno Prize for Journalism 2008. Bilal Hussein was selling telephones and computers in Fallujah when AP contracted him as a mediator and assistant because of his local knowledge.
On the 12th April 2006 Bilal Hussein was arrested for 18 months without charge by US forces. In December 2008 the US army transferred the case to the Iraqi legal system which ordered the end of all legal procedures against him. Bilal was feed on the 16th April 2008.
One of his photographs, an image of four Fallujah insurgents shooting with mortars and a machine gun during the US offensive on the city in November 2004, was part of a set of 20 AP photos which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 under the category of Breaking News Photographs.
On the 17th September 2006 it was made public that Hussein had been imprisoned by the US army without charge or trial since April of that year due to “security imperatives” based on UN resolutions. Hussein was put under US custody on the 12th April 2006 in the Iraqi city of Ramadi and from then on he was imprisoned without charge. On the 20th of November 2007, the US army announced that it would shortly be bringing charges against Hussein and that it was to entrust the case to the Iraqi legal system. On the 9th April 2008, an Iraqi judicial committee ordered that Hussein be freed, resolving that he was protected under an Iraqi amnesty law. On the 14th April, the US army announced that Hussein would be freed before the 16th April, simply claiming that “he no longer poses an immediate threat to security”.
The case of Bilal Hussein has become an exponent of the extreme difficulties that Iraqi media professionals face, hounded by both radicals and US soldiers.
(Left to right)
David Trías, Publisher Plaza & Janés; Patrocinio Macián, President Foundation; Fernando González Urbaneja, President FAPE; Víctor Caivano, AP Chief Photographer for Spain and Portugal, who picked up the prize on behalf of Hussein and Josep Mª Blanco, Barcelona Autónoma University Dean.