Kurdish journalist concerned about safety

New York, June 19, 2009–A journalist in the Iraqi Kurdistan town of Dukan said he is concerned about his safety after a confrontation with a security officer for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on Tuesday evening.   

Goran Dukani, a reporter for the independent daily Hawlati and the bilingual Kurdish-Arabic Radio Nawa, told CPJ that Capt. Mahmood Jaf, the chief security officer for the PUK’s Dukan office, came to his house and was armed. Dukani, who said he left when neighbors intervened, said he notified authorities because he considered the visit to be intimidating.

Contacted today, Jaf told CPJ that he went to the reporter’s home to discuss a difference in opinion about an earlier story. He said he did not threaten the reporter.

Both Dukani and Jaf said the episode was rooted in a May 28 Hawlati article about a knife attack against a PUK security officer in Dukan, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Sulaymaniyah. Dukani tried to interview Jaf, who said he had been instructed by a supervisor not to comment. Dukani said he cited Jaf’s response in the story. In a subsequent phone conversation, Jaf complained about the use of his name in the story and said he would file a lawsuit, both parties said. Jaf said no lawsuit was actually filed.

Dukani said he was concerned enough by the phone conversation to file his own lawsuit against Jaf on Sunday, seeking a protective order. Dukani said Jaf had made threatening statements, an assertion Jaf denied.