Washington, D.C., February 10, 2022 – Kurdish security forces in northern Syria should immediately release journalists Sabri Fakhri and Bawar Malla Ahmad, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On Saturday, February 5, soldiers affiliated with the Democratic Party Union, the political party in power in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria’s regional government, detained both journalists at their homes in the city of Qamishli, according to news reports. Authorities have not disclosed their locations or any charges against them, those reports said.
“Authorities in northern Syria must release journalists Sabri Fakhri and Bawar Malla Ahmad immediately, or at the very least disclose their locations and the reasons for their arrests,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “The Democratic Party Union must allow the press to work freely, and ensure that political differences do not result in the harassment and detention of journalists.”
Those reports did not identify which specific Democratic Party Union-affiliated group was responsible for the arrests.
Fakhri works as a correspondent for ARK TV, an Iraqi-based broadcaster funded by the Kurdistan Democratic Party opposition party, which covers Syrian and international news; he is also a member of the KDP’s Regional Committee, a local branch of the party, according to those reports.
Ahmad is a reporter at Yeketi Media, the official news website of the KDP-affiliated Kurdistan Yekiti Party, those reports said.
Tensions have recently worsened between the Democratic Party Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party in northern Syria, and earlier in February authorities suspended the KDP-affiliated broadcaster Rudaw TV, according to news reports and CPJ reporting.
CPJ repeatedly called Badi Ahmed, a spokesperson for the Asayish security forces, and Kharib Heso, co-chair of the Movement for a Democratic Society political coalition dominated by the Democratic Union Party, for comment, but no one answered.
[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its fifth and sixth paragraphs to correct mischaracterizations of ARK TV and Yeketi Media.]