Friday, November 13, 2009

Guardian fined by Iraqi court in ruling seen as attack on press freedom

Fine over Ghaith Abdul-Ahad report quoting PM's critics 'makes a mockery' of Baghdad's claim to be democracy

Julian Borger, diplomatic editor, Thursday 12 November 2009

(Left: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad)

"There was widespread condemnation from around the world today of an Iraqi court ruling fining the Guardian for reporting criticism of the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

A broad range of leading journalists, Iraq experts, civic society activists and former officials involved in Iraq's postwar reconstruction said the ruling and fine – for an article quoting intelligence officials as saying Maliki was becoming increasingly authoritarian – reflected a marked decline in press freedom in Iraq.

The article was written by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an award-winning Iraqi staff correspondent for the Guardian.......

Some commentators went as far as to compare Maliki's behaviour to the rule of Iraq's former dictator. Patrick Cockburn, a journalist and the author of three books on Iraq, said: "This means we're halfway down the road to the end of the free press in Iraq, which was one of the few gains from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And what makes this so menacing is that not even Saddam tried this ploy [of suing for defamation in the courts] to stifle reporting on Iraq, which after all said far ruder things about him than has been said about Maliki."......"

No comments: