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Prime minister launches new lawsuit against news media, withdraws another

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders deplores the libel suit that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has brought against the London-based "Guardian" newspaper. The press freedom organisation regards the lawsuit as all the more absurd as Maliki has just withdrawn a similar libel action against Kitabat, an Iraqi news website based in Germany.

Maliki is demanding US$1 million in damages from the "Guardian" for describing his government as "authoritarian" in an article. He initially called for the closure of the newspaper's bureau in Baghdad.

A Baghdad court ordered Kitabat to pay 1 billion dinars (630,000 euros) in damages on 18 May 2009 as a result of a lawsuit brought forward by the prime minister over a January article by reporter Ali Hussein accusing his chief of staff of nepotism.

Maliki finally withdrew his action against Kitabat on 28 May 2009. Reporters Without Borders welcomes this decision as the award for damages threatened the website's ability to continue operating.

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