On October 22, Kurdish security forces raided the house of Kurdish reporter and editor Guhdar Zebari and arrested him. No reasons or charges have been disclosed, and his editor and family have not heard from him since his arrest.
Zebari reports and edits for the news website
in the northern Kurdish city of Akre in the Dohuk governorate. At the time of his arrest, he was getting ready to launch a Kurmanji dialect edition of
, according to the paper’s editor-in-chief, Wrya Hussein.
Saeed sent a video to CPJ showing Zebari’s room immediately after the raid, with the mattresses scattered and the contents of the closets thrown to the floor. According to Saeed, security forces searched for Zebari’s laptops and cell phones, and seized all the electronic devices in the house, including those belonging to Zebari’s wife and daughter and two visiting relatives.
Hussein told CPJ that in the weeks leading up to the arrest Zebari had been “living in fear” and hiding because he had received threatening messages, though did not provide further details. He said he believed that Zebari had been targeted over his journalism, but was unable to point to any specific articles; he added that Zebari was consumed with launching the Kurmanji-edition of Wllat and running Wllat’s Kurmanji Facebook account in the leadup to his arrest.
Zebari’s brother, Zedan Zebari, told CPJ that he didn’t know his brother’s whereabouts or the reasons for his arrest. Since he was arrested, neither he nor Hussein have heard from the journalist, they told CPJ.
In an email to CPJ, Dindar Zebari, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s coordinator for international advocacy, said he would look into Zebari’s arrest and respond as soon as possible but as of November 2020 CPJ had not heard again from him. Zebari is a tribe in the Dohuk governorate; CPJ was unable to determine if the journalist is closely related to Dindar Zebari.