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Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers are seen in Erbil, Iraq, on July 9, 2019. Peshmerga forces recently detained journalist Zuber Bradosti. (Reuters/Ako Rasheed)

Kurdish military forces detain journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan

July 29, 2019 1:15 PM ET

Beirut, July 29, 2019 -- Kurdish Peshmerga forces should immediately disclose any charges against journalist Zuber Bradosti or else release him from custody, the Committee to Protect Journalist said today.

On July 21, in Bradost, Iraqi Kurdistan, members of the Peshmerga Halgurd Unit military forces, which are affiliated with the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), summoned Bradosti, a reporter for the pro-Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) news website Roj News, for questioning and then detained him and transferred him to Masif, a town near Erbil, according to news reports, the local human rights group 17 Shubat for Human Rights, and Roj News editor Soran Hussein, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

According to a report by his employer, security forces have not disclosed any charges against Bradosti or let his family contact him.

"Summoning and detaining a journalist without stating the reason for the arrest is more common in dictatorships than in beacons of democracy as the Kurdish authorities like to describe themselves," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. "We call on the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to either disclose charges or release Zuber Bradosti immediately and let him do his job freely and without fear of reprisal."

The Kurdistan Workers' Party is a militant group and political party active in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria that has been fighting Turkey since 1984, according to news reports; it is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey, and other countries.

Hussein told CPJ that Roj News contacted General Bahram Ali Yassin, head of the Peshmerga's Halgurd Unit, to inquire about Bradosti, but he denied any knowledge about his case. Hussein said that Bradosti has not been brought to a court since he was detained.

"This is the second time he has been arrested this year and I think that his arrest is related to his job as a journalist in the Bradost area," Hussein told CPJ.

Bradosti was previously arrested on March 17, when Asayish security forces, also aligned with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, detained him following his reporting on Turkish airstrikes in the area, and released him on bail several days later, according to Roj News.

Bradost again covered Turkish airstrikes in two articles published on June 26.

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.

On January 28, Kurdish Asayish security forces arrested freelance journalist Sherwan Sherwani after he posted videos about Turkish airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan, as CPJ reported at the time. He was held for several weeks until he was released on bail, according to CPJ research.

[Editor's Note: The second paragraph of this article has been changed to correct the location where Bradosti was arrested.]

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