Karim, a contributor to several Kurdish-language publications, was serving a two-year term on charges of harming national security, according to news reports and human rights groups. The charges stem from a series of articles he wrote in October and November 2011 for the Swedish-based website Kurdistanpost, according to news reports. The pieces detailed alleged corruption among Kurdistan security agents working at Arbil International Airport; Karim had worked as a security officer in the airport’s VIP lounge. Kurdistanpost is known for its critical, investigative coverage of the Kurdistan regional government.
In November 2011, days after he published the articles, Asaish security forces seized Karim from his car, according to Human Rights Watch. Karim’s relatives knew nothing of his whereabouts or well-being until February 2012, when the journalist was allowed to call them from prison, the group reported. He was first held in solitary confinement in Asaish Erbil, a high security prison, until his transfer to Asaishi Dishi, a general security prison. Karim was denied access to a lawyer and faced no formal charges for several months, news reports said.
In a September 2012 letter to Human Rights Watch, the Kurdistan regional government’s Department of Foreign Affairs said Karim was “being investigated for publishing sensitive information,” and “was arrested for publishing a series of articles online about the Kurdistan Security Agency and Arbil International Airport.” A criminal court in Arbil sentenced Karim in October 2012, according to news reports. The proceedings were closed to the public.