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Iraqi Kurdish Writers Threatened

A court in Irbil sentenced the Kurdish writer Kamal Sayid Qadir to eighteen months in prison for writing articles critical of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region of Iraq and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or K-D-P. Mr. Qadir has Austrian citizenship but was abducted by the K-D-P's security service in October 2005 while on a visit to the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

A high-ranking Kurdish official, Qubad Talabani, said that Mr. Barzani probably would pardon Mr. Qadir. "Maybe it's time to revise certain laws," Mr. Talabani told C-N-N. "We are an emerging democracy. . . .we need to improve our institutions."

Freedom of expression did not exist in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule and has generally flourished since his removal from power. Yet the Kurdish authorities' prosecution of Mr. Qadir is not unique. In mid-March, security forces affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or P-U-K, arrested Hawez Hawezi, who writes for the independent Kurdish newspaper Hawlati. Hawlati's managing editor Peshwaz Faizulla told the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent press freedom monitor, that P-U-K security agents assaulted Mr. Hawezi while driving him to a detention facility in the city of Sulaymaniyah. Mr. Hawezi was released on bail after being questioned by an investigating judge. The judge told Mr. Hawezi he faced unspecified defamation charges for a recent article criticizing local Kurdish authorities.

In another case, Islamic extremists in Iraqi Kurdistan have threatened the Kurdish author Marywan Halabjayee with death for writing a book they say is critical of the status of women under Islam.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, "The free flow of ideas is the lifeline of liberty." Writers in Iraq's Kurdistan and the country's other regions should be able to express their views without fear of imprisonment or intimidation.

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