Washington, D.C., August 1, 2022 – Iraqi Kurdish authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalists Karzan Tariq and Chenar Ahmed and cease harassing members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On the morning of Monday, August 1, members of the Asayish intelligence agency detained Tariq, a reporter for the local broadcaster NRT, and Ahmed, a camera operator for the outlet, while they were interviewing people about the region’s economy in the city of Sulaymaniyah, according to a statement by NRT and the broadcaster’s newsroom manager Mariwan Hassan, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Hassan told CPJ that the Asayish agents confiscated the journalists’ equipment and phones, and had not disclosed any reason for their arrests. That statement said the pair was arrested at the order of the Kurdistan region’s Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani “without any justification or court order.”
“Iraqi Kurdish authorities should immediately release NRT journalists Karzan Tariq and Chenar Ahmed, and refrain from filing any charges against them,” said CPJ senior researcher Yeganeh Rezaian. “Media workers must be allowed to interview members of the public without fear that they will be detained and harassed.”
Hassan told CPJ that Tariq and Ahmed “didn’t commit any crimes or violations, they were doing their journalistic work to get people’s opinions.” He added that this was “not the first time” that Asayish agents had detained employees of the broadcaster.
Iraqi Kurdish authorities previously arrested Tariq and raided NRT’s newsroom in Sulaymaniyah in 2020, as CPJ documented at the time.
NRT is owned by Shaswar Abdulwahid, a businessperson and leader of the opposition New Generation Party, according to news reports.
CPJ contacted Asayish spokesperson Yasin Sami via messaging app for comment, but did not receive any reply.