Iraqi reporter Ferman Sadeq (right) is seen at a protest in Erbil on April 26, 2022. Asayish intelligence forces harassed Sadeq and other journalists at that protest. (Photo: Ferman Sadeq)

Iraqi Asayish forces obstruct 2 media crews covering Erbil protest

On April 26, 2022, forces with the Asayish intelligence agency harassed and obstructed two news crews covering a protest at a U.N. office in the northern Iraqi-Kurdish city of Erbil, according to news reports and journalists who spoke with CPJ.

Protesters gathered at the U.N. building to demonstrate against Turkish military operations in the region, those reports said.

As Asayish officers dispersed the protest, a group of three officers approached Ferman Sadeq, a reporter with the local independent broadcaster Peregraf Web-TV, confiscated his cellphone and microphone, and forced him to stop broadcasting, according to those reports and Sadeq, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Sadeq, who said he was clearly wearing his press ID, told CPJ that he feared the officers would beat him, but said protesters intervened and protected him. After the protest, Asayish officers returned his phone and microphone, he said.

Also at that protest, Asayish officers seized equipment and a vehicle used by reporter Dyar Hussen and camera operator Hangaw Nino with the Esta Media Network, a broadcaster affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, preventing them from covering the demonstration, according to those news reports and Hussen, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Authorities later returned the journalists’ car and equipment, according to those sources.

CPJ contacted Erbil Asayish spokesperson Ashti Majeed for comment via messaging app, but did not receive any response.