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Iraqi Kurdish free paper to be tried on terror charges

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by independent Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati on 26 August

The General Security Department in Sulaymaniyah seeks to try Hawlati daily on terror charges following the publication of a report on the presence of Al-Qa'idah in the city in the previous edition. The report suggested that Al-Qa'idah elements were operating in the city and were carrying activity such as painting on walls in the city.

The General Security director, Mamosta Sayf al-Din, told Kurdistani Nuwe daily on 22 August that "the news is a venomous propaganda and is completely unfounded"; adding that "the matter will be dealt with within the framework of the anti-terror law; this is propaganda for terrorism".

Does al-Qa'idah exist in Sulaymaniyah?

The rejection of the General Security comes at a time when the Media Office of the Sulaymaniyah Security has recently confirmed the report about Al-Qa'idah paintings on walls. Furthermore, after a quick scan of events in the past five months we found that some 18 violent incidents including explosion of roadside bombs and militant activities were carried out by Al-Qa'idah. Besides, a number of plans have been thwarted by security forces and several Al-Qa'idah members have been arrested.

Anti-Terror Law and media freedom

In line with the statement made by the security official, the Directorate of General Security wants to try Hawlati on charges of terrorizing and alarming the public in accordance with Clause 5 of Article 3 of the Anti-Terror Law of the Kurdistan Region [past reports suggest that the law has not come into force yet].

The publication of the Al-Qa'idah report by Hawlati came amid statements by security officials to the media about the presence of dormant Al-Qa'idah cells in the area. Moreover, the officials of the Anti-Terror Service have been speaking about attempts by Al-Qa'idah to assassinate Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] officials. However, none of these statements have been considered to be causing any terror to the public.

Clause 5 of Article 3 of the Anti-Terror Law Following is the text of the clause, as in the draft bill of the Anti-Terror Law in the Kurdistan Region - Iraq: "The following acts are considered terrorizing and will warrant imprisonment - a maximum of 15 years; anyone who: "Clause 5: Deliberately disseminates terrorizing news, explanations or propaganda; misuses the information carried in the broadcast, print and electronic media; posts significant statements on the net that would directly instigate terrorism acts, puts national security at risk and terrorizes the public and the political entity in the region."

Source: Hawlati, Sulaymaniyah, in Sorani Kurdish 26 Aug 07


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