For immediate release
January 6, 2006
30-year prison sentence for criticising Kurdish regional president in
Family says cyber-dissident has been on hunger strike for more than a
Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the president of the Kurdish
regional government in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, asking him to
intervene in the case of an Austrian citizen of Kurdish origin, Kamal
Sayid Qadir, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison on December 19 for
libelling him in articles posted on the Internet.
"This incident bodes ill for freedom of expression in Iraq’s Kurdish
region," the press freedom organisation wrote. "We condemn the use of
prison sentences to punish press offences and we are especially shocked
by the length of this sentence, even if Qadir really did libel you. We
therefore hope you will intervene to obtain his release and thereby
show you intend to establish a fair judicial system in your region that
complies with international standards."
Qadir was arrested on October 26 by members of the Parastin, a
security service operated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the
region’s two ruling parties. He is currently held in a prison in Erbil,
one of the region’s main cities.
A lawyer normally based in Vienna, Qadir, 48, is accused of libelling
and insulting Barzani in web articles. He has written dozens of
articles for websites such as Kurdishmedia.com and Kurdistanpost.com in
which he has been very critical of Barzani’s policies. He was
reportedly convicted on the basis of Kurdish customary law and not the
law approved by the regional parliament.
According to his sister, who lives in Germany, he has been on hunger
strike for more than a week in protest against his conviction.
Reporters Without Borders
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[a former member]
2006-01-06 12:16:46 UTC
Mar 12 2008