The Iraqi judiciary sentenced on Monday an activist to three years in prison for “insulting state institutions” after criticizing the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
In a Facebook post, Haidar al-Zeidi, 24, said he had been previously arrested by the PMF and detained for two weeks before being released on bail.
He can appeal the ruling.
Article 226 of the penal code, which dates back to the Baath era and the rule of late President Saddam Hussein, stipulates the imprisonment of no more than seven years of anyone who openly insults the parliament, government, judiciary, armed forces or any other state institutions.
Penalties may also include detention or fines.
The article had long been criticized by rights and civil groups that have compared it to dictatorial practices.
Zeidi’s sentence was widely condemned by activists, who slammed the PMF for carrying out duties that should be limited to the interior ministry and security agencies.
Head of the Beit Watani (National Home) party, Hussein al-Ghorabi said: “Welcome to dictatorship. Haidar al-Zeidi was sentenced to three years in jail over a tweet criticizing one of the political gods in Iraq. No to the stifling of freedoms.”
Journalist Hamed al-Sayyed said the sentence is “the worst offense against any martyr.”
Meanwhile, former MP Mithal al-Alusi revealed that he was sentenced to seven years in prison for insulting the judiciary.
In a tweet on Sunday shortly after the ruling, he said he would refrain from commenting on the sentence.
A secular politician, Alusi had returned to Iraq after the 2003 US invasion. He was twice elected to parliament. In 2004, al-Qaeda assassinated his only two sons in front of his Baghdad home.
He has been a supporter of normalizing relations with Israel and has been living in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.