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K-D-P Critic Jailed In Iraq

Kamal Sayid Qadir is a Kurdish writer who has Austrian citizenship. He was reportedly abducted in October 2005 while on a visit to the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Mr. Qadir was said to have been taken by the Parastin, the security service of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or K-D-P, one of the two parties holding power in northern Iraq. He is believed to have been seized because of articles he published on The Internet that were critical of the K-D-P, including its leader Massoud Barzani.

Amnesty International, an independent human rights monitoring group, reports that Mr. Qadir was sentenced on December 19th to thirty years imprisonment for "defamation" in connection with two internet articles criticizing the K-D-P leadership. The sentence was handed down by a state security court in the city of Irbil. But the proceedings, according to Amnesty International, fell "far short" of a fair trial.

Mr. Qadir was reportedly told about the trial only a few minutes before it began, and was represented by a court-appointed lawyer he had never met before. The trial lasted one hour, and the judge passed sentence once Mr. Qadir confirmed that he was the author of the internet articles in question.

Freedom of expression, a key element of democracy, was non-existent in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule. It has generally flourished since his removal from power. More than two-hundred Iraqi newspapers and magazines are in circulation, private radio and television stations are on the air, and numerous political parties compete in elections. Unlike during the Saddam Hussein era, rulings barring freedom of speech, as in Kamal Sayid Qadir’s case, are rare.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, "The free flow of ideas is the lifeline of liberty." The jailing of people for their political views has no place in Iraq's new democracy. "In the long run," says President George W. Bush, "there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.