Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Anger as Iraqi reporter is jailed

An Iraqi journalist has been jailed for writing a story about homosexuality which prosecutors said violated a public decency law.

Adel Hussein was given a six month jail sentence by a court in Irbil, in the country's north.

The article for Hawlati, an independent weekly, detailed the physical effects of gay sex.

Press freedom groups say the decency law was superceded by a more liberal media law earlier this year.

Publishers of Hawlati say the article was about sexual health and education, so should not in any case have been tried under public decency laws.

The two groups campaigning for Mr Hussein's release, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, argue that the jailing of Mr Hussein violates the Kurdish region's own press law.

"We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code. What was the point of adopting - and then liberalising - a press code in the Kurdistan region if people who contribute to the news media are still tried under more repressive laws?" asked a Reporters Without Borders statement.

According to the CPJ, the new law does not recognise a violation of "public custom", or public decency, as an offence.

Mr Hussein's lawyer, Luqman Malazdeh, told the CPJ that his client was prosecuted under an outdated 1969 Iraqi penal code.

The prosecutor in Irbil has also filed lawsuits against the magazine's publisher, Tareq Fateh, and former chief editor, Adnan Osman.

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