Iraq: British Geologist Sentenced to 15 Years for Artifact Smuggling

Photo: AP [via The Daily Mail]

The Facts

  • Retired geologist Jim Fitton was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a Baghdad court on Mon. on charges of smuggling artifacts out of Iraq, a verdict that reportedly shocked the trial's witnesses.

  • Judge Jabir Abd Jabir concluded that the 66-yr-old Brit was attempting to transport items out of Iraq with criminal intent, while German national Wolker Waldmann, arrested alongside Fitton, was acquitted of smuggling charges.

The Spin

Narrative A

The items Fitton collected were of no material or archeological value. It's ludicrous he is being charged with smuggling, and it's blatantly obvious that the judge has failed to apply the law correctly. This is an unjustly severe punishment.

Narrative B

Iraq's smuggling laws have developed in direct response to decades of looting, some of which US forces were complicit in when deployed to the country starting in 2003. Iraq has more than 25k archeological sites and not enough security resources to protect them, hence the country's current focus on extreme punitive measures to deter future theft.

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