22 years’ jail for breaking Iraq sanctions

Life gets pretty unpleasant for people falsely accused of terrorism: once the authorities have publicised somebody as a terrorist, it becomes embarrassing to see them walk free. The lucky ones find [support from the community](http://www.sidalidonations.net/about.php) and grudging government acceptance that they have at least some rights. Others, like Rafil Dhafir, find themselves hounded for anything the authorities can pin on them

Dhafir is an Iraqi-American doctor. He is currently serving 22 years in an American jail, confined to a ‘[communications management unit](http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/communication-management-units-mcgowan/1747/)’ that severely restricts his contact with the outside world. The US government thinks of him as a terrorist, and ‘[counts](http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/December/05_opa_641.html)’ his imprisonment as a success in the War on Terror.

But Dhafir has never been so much as charged with terrorism. He was instead convicted of sending money to Iraq, in violation of sanctions. He claims the money was for charitable purposes, and nobody seems to deny this.

[Sanctions on Iraq](http://www.casi.org.uk/) were one of the most bone-headedly counter-productive policies of recent years. Variously intended to contain Iraq, force it to dismantle its WMD programs, or force Saddam from power, they in fact only managed to harm the weakest in Iraq (to the tune of several hundred thousand deaths), while strengthening the regime. But forget that breaking this law is far more honourable than obeying it, and you still bang up against the length of the sentence. 22 years?! When [other sanctions-breaking attempts](http://www.rdrop.com/~/vitwpdx/vitwpdxnews052102.html) went unpunished, and comparable fraud offence rarely carry anything like this sentence? This is a sentence that makes no sense — except on a political level.

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