Freedom’s on the march in liberated Iraq. From the New York Times, Sept. 29:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers.
He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters’ only threat. Men with gavels are, too.
Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, about a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.
Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried in Baghdad for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists were accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.
On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting.
And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.