A campaign to free a journalist imprisoned at Guantanamo gained support Thursday from the first Muslim member of Congress, who urged authorities to prosecute or release him after more than five years without charges.

Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese cameraman for Al Jazeera, was captured in 2002 as he tried to enter Afghanistan to cover the war. His lawyer says he denies any connection to terrorism and has been on a hunger strike since January to protest his confinement.

In a rare show of public support from a U.S. official, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat, called for a hearing to determine whether the military has legitimate reason to hold Al-Haj with about 330 other men at the prison on a Navy base in Cuba. “If he’s a bad actor, prove it. If not, let him out,” the congressman told the Associated Press.

He said he believes all Guantanamo detainees should be allowed to challenge their confinement in the courts. But he said he is particularly concerned about the detention of a journalist who, as far as he can tell, was “detained for taking pictures.” (MORE)


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