New York, June 22, 2021 — In response to today’s sentencing of Iraqi Kurdish journalist Omed Baroshky to one year in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“With today’s sentencing of freelance journalist Omed Baroshky, Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq have again displayed their unhindered determination to shrink the space in which local journalists and media outlets are able to operate freely,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq should immediately release Baroshky, drop the charges against him, and cease harassing the media.”
A court in the northwestern Iraqi Kurdish city of Duhok today sentenced Baroshky to one year in prison on two counts of violating Article 2 of the Law on Misuse of Communication Devices for improper use of his media devices, according to news reports, Ayhan Saeed, the Duhok representative of the local press freedom group Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, and Ragaz Kamal, founder of the local human rights group 17Shubat for Human Rights, both of whom spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Kamal and Saeed told CPJ in addition to the jail term, Baroshky must pay a fine of 240,000 Iraqi dinars (US$165) for disobeying an order of a public official in violation of Article 240 of the Iraqi Penal Code.
Baroshky’s defense lawyer, Reving Yaseen, told the Iraqi Kurdish broadcaster NRT that the defense team has appealed the court’s decision.
CPJ was unable to determine why authorities claim Baroshky violated the two laws; Saeed previously told CPJ that Baroshky was initially arrested on August 18 over posts on Facebook critical of Iraqi Kurdish authorities; hours after he was released on September 13, he was rearrested and has been held since, according to CPJ research.
According to NRT, Baroshky is expected to face additional charges under a national security statute at a hearing on July 29.
In am email to CPJ after publication, Dindar Zebari, the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government’s coordinator for international advocacy, said that the conviction of Baroshky wasn’t related to his work as a journalist
Editor’s note: The eighth paragraph has been updated with a response from Dindar Zebari, the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government’s coordinator for international advocacy.