Ahmed said charges were filed against him and that he received the threats after publishing a series of articles in June about alleged corruption within the Sulaimaniyah-based Sardam Printing and Publishing House, a publisher of mainly Kurdish writers, according to CPJ research and local news reports. In his articles, which first appeared in Awena, a Kurdish weekly, Ahmed alleges that one of the writers in charge of Sadram, Rauf Bikat, had mismanaged government-donated land. Bikat responded to Ahmed’s allegations in an online article for Awena and filed a criminal defamation suit against the journalist in June.
According to Ahmed, on Monday evening,
Bikat's son, Ari Rauf—a former
police officer—called him and said: "My father responded to you with a pen
but I will respond with bullets." Earlier the same day, according to Ahmed,
Rauf called and said he was coming “to get” him. Rahman Gharib, who works at
Rauf told CPJ by phone that he
did not threaten Ahmed. He said he has filed his own lawsuit against Ahmed for
defamation, in addition to his father’s, in
“The two criminal defamation suits against Shwan Ahmed constitute legal harassment,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Rauf Bikat is certainly entitled to defend his reputation, but this should be a civil not criminal matter.”
As for the threats, the head of police in Sulaymaniyah, Najem Ad-Din Qader, was quoted in local news reports as saying that "police forces will make great efforts to investigate the case."
According to a Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate report released Sunday, there has been an increase in violations, including death threats, against local journalists. During the first half of this year, it reported 87 violations, in comparison to 50 violations during the same period in 2009.
In May, freelance journalist Sardasht Osman, 23, was found shot to death in
“Not long ago Iraqi