Adel Hussein, a medical doctor and freelance journalist who was jailed in Iraq for writing an article about sodomy and health has been released, thanks to a presidential pardon.

Hussein was found guilty of offending public decency under article 403 of the criminal code on 24 November in the Kurdish city of Erbil and sentenced to six months in prison.

Instead of the court using the region’s new press law, the sentence handed down was based on the outdated 1969 Iraqi penal code, said Luqman Malazadah, Hussein’s lawyer.

President Massoud Barzani gave the pardon on Sunday, one day before the Muslim celebration of Eid. According to the president’s website, Hussein’s was part of a group of 121 pardons made in the region.

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the presidential pardon: “We are relieved that President Barzani intervened to right this injustice,” said its Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.

“We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is enforced and that Adel Hussein is the last journalist to be sent to prison in Iraqi Kurdistan because of his work.”

Hussein said he was shocked to be tried for the article since he had previously written three books and hundreds of articles on sex and health with no legal action.

A member of the Union of Kurdish Journalists, Hussein often writes articles for the local press and hosts a programme on Newroz TV.

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