Freed in Iraq, an editor offers thanks

Shwan Dawdi, editor-in-chief of the Kirkuk-based newspaper Hawal, sent a letter thanking CPJ for its help in overturning his conviction and one-month prison term. “I would like to express … my thanks and gratitude for your noble and courageous position to defend the freedom of the press and journalists,” Dawdi wrote.

On November 4, a criminal court in Sulaymania found Dawdi guilty of three defamation charges filed by retired judge Kemal Mustafa, former head of the Sulaymania courthouse. Dawdi was jailed the same day and fined 300,000 Iraqi dinars (US$255) for publishing articles in 2004 on various court problems.

Problem was Dawdi was charged and tried under an obsolete statute. A new, more liberal law, which took effect in October, eliminates prison terms for offenses such as defamation. We sent a letter to Faruq Jamil, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s minister of justice, pointing out the problem and urging that the court of appeals hear the editor’s case immediately.

“I express my gratitude for the positions and the efforts you have made during the period which I spent in prison to speed up the process of appealing the court’s rule,” Dawdi wrote.