On July 17, 2019, in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil, officers from the Kurdish Counter-Terrorism Forces assaulted Al-Jazeera reporter Ahmed al-Zawiti, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, and news reports.
Al-Zawiti told CPJ that he was covering the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in Erbil when the officers approached his film crew and told them to leave. Al-Zawiti showed the officers his ID and press badge and asked for more time to move his equipment, at which point the officers punched and kicked him and pushed him to the floor, he said.
Al-Zawiti was taken to a local hospital to be treated for bruising that he sustained in the assault, where he also filed a complaint with the police, he said. He told CPJ that other journalists at the scene and his film crew witnessed the incident, but were not similarly assaulted.
Dindar Zebari, the Kurdistan Regional Government´s deputy minister for international advocacy coordination, a government spokesperson, did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Major General Tariq Nuri, head of the Asayish intelligence agency in Erbil, told Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw that the allegations of assault were false and that local and international broadcasters would have reported on the incident had it happened. The incident has been covered in Rudaw, the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, and other local media outlets and advocacy organizations.