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US frees filmmaker after 2 months

BAGHDAD -- An Iranian-American aspiring filmmaker who had been detained by the US military for nearly two months without being charged was released yesterday, officials said.

Cyrus Kar, 44, of Los Angeles, was taken into custody on May 17 near Balad, when possible bomb parts were reported found in a taxi in which he was riding. After the FBI cleared him of suspicion but continued to hold him, his family filed a lawsuit accusing the US government of violating his rights.

Kar's Iranian cameraman also was released from US custody yesterday, but the military said it would continue to hold the taxi driver pending the results of an investigation.

''Kar was detained as an imperative security threat to Iraq," said a statement the US military issued yesterday. ''After his initial questioning, the military notified the FBI, who initiated an investigation to determine if Kar had engaged in terrorist activities."

The US military convened a review board hearing on July 4 to determine whether Kar was an ''enemy combatant."

''Based on the FBI investigation, the testimony of Kar and the witness he called, and other witness statements, the board determined Kar was not an enemy combatant and recommended his release, which was approved," the statement said.

The US military defended its detention of Kar.

''This case highlights the effectiveness of our detainee review process," an Air Force spokesman, Brigadier General Don Alston, was quoted as saying in the statement. ''We followed well-established procedures, and Mr. Kar has now been properly released."

Kar was born in Iran but immigrated to the United States as a child. He served in the Navy and worked in the computer industry before becoming interested in documentary filmmaking.

With help from an independent producer, Philippe Diaz, Kar began working on a documentary about the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great. He interviewed experts and shot footage at sites in Afghanistan and Iran, according to his family and Diaz.

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