The PUK politburo called on the Kurdistan Region President to grant special amnesty to the journalists and activists, expressing concerns that the verdicts will defame the Region’s reputation towards the international community.
“Politburo of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) reacts with so much worries to the decision by the Region’s Court of Appeals to approve unjust verdicts against detained Badinan activists and journalists,” the statement reads.
It urged the Kurdistan Parliament to prevent “intervention” in court affairs and take a serious stance.
“We welcome any party and political side to put their voices alongside PUK’s for sovereignty of law and independence of judicial authority.”
On February 16, Second Branch of the Erbil Criminal Court sentenced the five to six years in prison over controversial charges for undermining the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region, but they deny the charges and claim their confessions were manipulated.
It was made public on Thursday that the Region's appellate court, three out of the court's total five judges, approved the sentence as it was signed on April 28.
The court accused German and US consulates in Erbil of involvement, saying “The convicts telephoned the German and US consulates [in Erbil], met their diplomats in a hotel and were paid by them.”
PUK politburo warned that accusations against the foreign diplomats won’t serve the interests of the Kurdistan Region.
PUK Co-leader, Lahur Sheikh Jangi said “Accusing them [German and US consulates] with false accusations is a scandal that infringes upon the reputation of the Kurdistan Region.”
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Coordinator for International Advocacy Dindar Zebari said at a news conference on Thursday that the government “is the implementing side. We have full belief in the court and the Kurdistan Region Judicial Authority is independent.”
Local and international watchdogs have voiced alarm by the aggravating state of freedom of press and expression in the Region, especially after clampdowns on anti-government protests by the security forces affiliated with Barzani’s party the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in areas under its jurisdiction last year.
Last summer and autumn, a number of journalists and activists, including the five, were arrested by the security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Erbil in a bid to crack down protests criticism over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) decision to delay and slash public sector salary payments amid deteriorating economic conditions.