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US Military to Release News Photographer


The U.S. military has announced it will release Associated Press photographer Bill Hussein, who has been held in custody in Iraq for more than two years for allegedly working with insurgents.

The military released a statement late Monday saying Hussein would be released because Iraqi officials have cleared him of all allegations.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the U.S. State Department announced U.S. officials can now officially take control of the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad and begin moving equipment into its offices and living quarters.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said American diplomats will start moving into the new embassy compound in late May and early June.

Also on Monday, radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded the Iraqi government reinstate all security forces fired for abandoning their duty in recent fighting.

The powerful cleric said Monday the forces were obeying their religious leaders and should be honored for their devotion.

Iraqi officials dismissed 13-hundred soldiers and policemen Sunday for refusing to fight against Shi'ite militias in Basra and other Shi'ite strongholds.

Meanwhile, Iraqi troops searching for criminals in Basra Monday rescued a British journalist kidnapped two months ago.

A defense ministry spokesman said the troops found Richard Butler by chance, after they were fired on from the house where the journalist was being held.

Butler was working for the U.S. television network CBS when gunmen seized him and his interpreter from a Basra hotel in early February. The interpreter was released days later.

Attacks in various parts of the war-torn country claimed at least 22 lives Monday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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