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Cyber-dissident Kamal Sayid Qadir released

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release on 3 April 2006 of jurist Kamal Sayid Qadir, an Austrian national of Kurdish origin, arrested on 26 October 2005 for posting "defamatory" articles about the authorities in Kurdistan.

The cyber-dissident had been sentenced to 18 months in prison just a few days earlier. At a first hearing, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the basis of the same charge.

Welcoming his release, the press freedom organisation said, "We met the Iraqi ambassador in Paris last week and Kamal Sayid Qadir's case was raised. We asked for the urgent release of the cyber-dissident, stressing our concern about the constant adjournments of his case."

Reporters Without Borders also sent an open letter to the UN in Iraq and the Austrian president urging them to intervene on his behalf.

Qadir had been charged with posting articles on a Kurdish website implicating the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massud Barzani, in a corruption case. He was also accused of insulting and defaming the head of state.

"This release shows the determination of the government to support democracy in this region," said a local spokesman, Mohammed Khoshna.

Qadir had been on remand in Erbil prison since 26 October 2005, in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in the north of Iraq. He was sentenced on 19 December 2005, for "defamation of public institutions". In a statement posted on the site http://www.kurdishmedia.com, the jurist accepted that he had made "inappropriate" comments about certain people referred to in his articles.

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