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Rights Group Claims Iraq Returning to Days of Saddam Hussein

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nearly nine years ago, the country under Saddam Hussein was considered a police state where free speech was rare, anti-government protests were virtually non-existent and imprisoned political prisoners faced torture and death.

Now, Human Rights Watch claims that Iraq is sliding back that way again.

In fact, the New York-based human rights group says that the Obama administration, in its haste to extricate itself from the long war, "left behind a budding police state."

The accusation of Iraq becoming an autocratic regime is found in Human Rights Watch's annual report in which it alleges the government regularly intimidates activists, tortures detainees, and harasses journalists.

[CLICK HERE TO READ HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S ANNUAL WORLD REPORT]

Iraqi researcher Samer Muscati, who contributed to the report, maintains that "Iraqis are quickly losing ground on the most basic of rights, including the right to free speech and assembly.  Nowadays, every time someone attends a peaceful protest, they put themselves at risk of attack and abuse by security forces or their proxies."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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