Press freedom activists condemn Iraqi-Kurdish authorities' arrest of journalists

Press freedom activists condemn Iraqi-Kurdish authorities' arrest of journalists
2 min read
19 May, 2020
The Iraqi Kurdish authorities are attempting to 'stamp out news coverage that makes the government uncomfortable' by arresting reporters covering a protest, says the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Security forces arrested hundreds protesting delays in payment of their salaries [Getty]
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Kurdish Iraqi authorities to immediately drop all charges against four journalists who were arrested last week for covering a protest in the city of Duhok.

Kurdish security forces carried out a mass arrest campaign at a rally on Saturday led by teachers against months of unpaid salaries.

Among those seized were at least eight journalists affiliated with media outlets linked to opposition parties including Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Read more: Syrian Kurdish authorities ban journalist who 'offended martyrs'

Ramadhan Artesey, the journalists' lawyer, said security forces also confiscated the journalists’ equipment. Four reporters were released several hours later and the remaining four were detained until Monday, when they were released on bail set at 2 million Iraqi dinars (1,680 USD).

The four were charged with participating in an unauthorised protest.

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Miguel Delgado, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Representative, said: “Once again the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq have used the laws at their convenience to stamp out news coverage that makes the government uncomfortable.”

Artesey told CPJ that the four reporters, named Akram Guli, Maher Sakfan, Omed Haji and Ahmed Sharnakhi, attended a court hearing on Monday together with teachers and activists who had also been arrested at the protest.

However the lawyer warned that the case was not yet over and the group would have to attend future trials.

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