Halo Jabary and Ako Banayi
Kurdistan TV cameraman Ako Banayi (left) and correspondent Halo Jabari were detained by Iraqi federal police on May 25, 2022, while covering the recent burning of crops by alleged Islamic State militants in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Photo: Kurdistan TV/Halo Jabari)

Iraqi federal police detain Kurdistan TV crew in Kirkuk

On May 25, 2022, the Iraqi federal police obstructed and detained a two-person crew working for Kurdistan TV, the official broadcaster of Iraqi Kurdistan’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party, in a village in Daquq district, southwest of Kirkuk province, and released them after an hour of questioning, according to a report by Kurdistan TV and the crew, who spoke to the Committee to Protect Journalists by phone.  

The Kurdistan TV crew—correspondent Halo Jabari and cameraman Ako Banayi—had traveled to Zanqa village to cover the aftermath of the burning of farmers’ crops and grains by alleged Islamic State militants there, the crew said.

Jabari told CPJ that “six military vehicles full of the federal police forces came and told us that we did not have permission to visit the area without a support letter from Kirkuk joint operations command.”

“We had our press ID. We told them that we are a registered media outlet all over Iraq and we can go and cover any area we want, but they prevented us from covering and asked us to go with them,” Jabari said.

Jabari said the federal police “took us to their headquarters in Daquq for interrogation. They were very furious and told us that this area is a military zone, that means no media could go there without permission.”

Banayi told CPJ that “we told them that we entered the area through their [the federal police] formal checkpoint. And the village is full of people, but they insisted that we should leave there.”

“They asked me to remove all the footage I took with my camera, but luckily, while they took us to their headquarters, I changed the memory and hid the used memory card to save the footage,” Banayi said.

After more than an hour, the federal police released the crew and warned them not to return to the area or report that the crops and grains were burnt by Islamic State militants, the crew said.

CPJ called Iraq’s Federal Police Command and left a message, but did not receive an immediate response.