Members of Kurdish security forces are seen in Qamishli, Syria, on July 25, 2022. Authorities in Qamishli recently detained journalist Barzan Ferman. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

Rudaw reporter Barzan Ferman detained in northern Syria

Washington, D.C., August 3, 2022 – Authorities in northern Syria should immediately release journalist Barzan Ferman and reverse their suspension of the Rudaw Media Network’s license, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

At about noon on Tuesday, August 2, forces affiliated with the Democratic Union Party, the political party in power in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, detained Ferman, a reporter for Rudaw TV, in the city of Qamishli according to a report by his employer and the journalist’s sister, Hamalin Ferman, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Hamalin Ferman told CPJ that authorities had not disclosed where the journalist was being held or the reason for his arrest.

“Authorities in northern Syria must immediately release journalist Barzan Ferman, or disclose his location and the reason for his arrest,” said CPJ Senior Researcher Yeganeh Rezaian. “The Democratic Union Party must halt its censorship efforts against the Rudaw network and allow the broadcaster to work freely and safely.”

Hamalin Ferman told CPJ that her brother was at Rudaw’s office in Qamishli when three masked security officers, one of whom carried a gun, detained him and took him away in a white van. She said the journalist’s family asked local officials and security forces about his status but had not received any responses.

When CPJ contacted Abdullah Sa’dun, a spokesperson of Asayish intelligence agency, the region’s main law enforcement body, via messaging app, he said that he had already spoken with the journalist’s family and would not comment further.

On February 5, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria announced that it was suspending the Rudaw Media Network’s license and the licenses of its employees, claiming the network spread “hate and misinformation.” Ferman had continued working since that suspension, and was detained while helping two colleagues clean and arrange the shuttered office, his sister said.

Hamalin Ferman told CPJ that the journalist’s family was not aware of any threats against the journalist, but added, “maybe he kept it secret.”

Rudaw is affiliated with the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in northern Iraq, and its main office is based in the Iraqi Kurdish capital city of Erbil; it is funded by Nechrivan Barzani, the deputy president of the KDP and the president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, according to CPJ research.