AP, others urge access to US courts for military detainees in Iraq

The Associated Press, reporters groups and advocates for press freedoms urged the US Supreme Court on Friday to reject Bush administration arguments that people held by the military in Iraq have no access to American courts. The government's view, if ratified by the court in a case that will be argued in March, would make it harder for journalists and others who are detained in the heat of battle, particularly in urban areas, to seek their freedom, the organizations said in a legal filing. The AP has been fighting the detention of photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held by the US military without charges for 22 months. He waited 20 months before his first hearing in an Iraqi court. "It is critical that detainees be promptly afforded a meaningful hearing before a neutral decisionmaker so they have an opportunity to demonstrate their civilian status or rebut the allegations against them," the groups said.