New York, September 29, 2017-Kurdish security forces in northern Syria should immediately release Ibrahim Ali al-Suleiman, a local reporter for the independent Euphrates Post, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Members of Asayish, the security force for the defacto authorities of the Rojava region in northern Syria, on September 15 detained al-Suleiman at his home, according to Euphrates Post Media Network Director Ahmed Ramadan.
Citing a conversation with the journalist’s wife, Ramadan told CPJ that Asayish agents came to al-Suleiman’s house in the city of al-Shadadeh, and asked him if he was from the Euphrates Post before they detained him and his four sons. CPJ was unable to determine the name of al-Suleiman’s wife or children.
Ramadan said that al-Suleiman’s whereabouts are unknown, but the reporter’s children are being held at a camp run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are affiliated with the defacto leaders in Rojava , outside the city of Ain Issa, nearly 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from al-Shadadeh.
“Seizing a man and his four sons without explanation amounts to judicial kidnapping,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “This is the second time this year Kurdish security forces have detained a journalist in the Rojava region. This is becoming a worrying trend. The authorities must release Ibrahim Ali al-Suleiman and his family immediately and refrain from persecuting journalists.”
The Euphrates Post, which supports neither the Assad regime or the Kurdish militants, reported that the Asayish security forces have not given any explanation for the arrest of al-Suleiman or his family members. The paper said al-Suleiman had never reported on events in areas under control of Kurdish dominated groups.
According to Ramadan, al-Suleiman had been working for the Euphrates Post and its predecessor, the social media outlet and website Deir ez Zour is Being Slaughtered Silently, for three years covering the Islamic State groups’ occupation of the Deir ez Zour region with a focus on human rights violations committed by both Assad’s troops and Islamic State fighters.
Al-Suleiman relocated to Hasakah Governorate in the Rojava region in June after receiving threats against him and his family, but continued covering human rights violations in Islamic State-controlled areas, Ramadan said.
In May, Asayish security forces detained Zagros TV reporter Barzan Liani, and have held him at Navkour Jail in the village of Qamishli near Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey, according to Massoud Akko, a journalist who is closely covering the case and who has been in touch with the journalist’s family and employer, told CPJ.
CPJ sent a letter to the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, the defacto authorities in the Rojava region, in June seeking more information on Liani and demanding the reporter’s release.