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Journalist begins hunger strike to protest continued detention by US forces

(RSF/IFEX) - As US troops begin their withdrawal from Iraqi cities, many questions remain about the persons still detained by US forces. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Reuters photographer Ibrahim Jassam, who has been held since September 2008.

"The US armed forces are now withdrawing from the main Iraqi cities after six years of occupation," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hope this will result in the release of detainees still held by the Americans, such as Ibrahim Jassam, who was arrested 10 months ago. His detention is illegal as the Iraqi central criminal court dismissed all charges against him last November. He must be freed."

One of his sisters told Reporters Without Borders by phone: "Ibrahim began a hunger strike four days ago in protest against his illegal detention. His health is deteriorating. We are very worried about him." His family is allowed to visit him every two months.

Jassam was arrested by US and Iraqi soldiers in the south Baghdad district of Mahmoudiyah on 1 September 2008. No evidence was produced against him when the central criminal court heard his case on 30 November and dismissed all the charges. Nonetheless, he is still being held in Buki prison in Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad.

The situation of journalists continues to be critical in Iraq and the danger persists as the US forces pull out. Three journalists have been killed since the start of 2009.

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