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While Baghdad improves, a family's hopes still arrested by war

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Senior US military officers and United Nations officials – including the top UN Human Rights official for Iraq – have been made aware of the case.

Good news came in recent days: Iraqi court officials visited to say that they knew the son was innocent, but that the process of his release would take more time. In Iraq, innocent prisoners are often arrested and held, in an attempt to extort money from desperate families.

The Methboubs were told that they'd have until Thursday to pay $9,500 to secure the son's release. If they didn't have the money, he would be held longer. So far they have cobbled together almost half that amount by selling daughter Zainab's wedding gold and what remains of the mother's jewelry and other items.

Another Methboub son was at the coffee shop on the day of the raid but escaped arrest.

"We were drinking our tea and suddenly we see pistols over everyone's heads," Mohamed recalls. An informant wearing a mask pointed out to the Iraqi police many young men.

They were fingerprinted by US forces, Mohamed says, before being handed back to Iraqi police units. Nearly all have since been released.

Despite this family's poverty, they are making every effort to pay their way out. They say they have already given $500 to a court lawyer who promised she could do something but did not. Then they cobbled together a $1,700 (2 million Iraqi dinar) loan from a shop owner to pay off a police officer who said he could act in exchange for the money.

Another family has been able to buy the freedom of their son who was nabbed in the same raid.

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