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PM Barzani says 'actions' of Badinan convicts ‘politically-motivated’

  2021-05-17  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Journalists and activists Sherwan Sherwan, Shvan Saeed, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Issa and Ayaz Karam, who were sentenced by a court in Erbil on March 29, 2021. Graphic by Zhya News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Sunday (May 16) that the past actions of Badinan convicted journalists and activists was "politically-motivated" following backlashes in and out the Kurdistan Region over the case.

“Regarding the case in Badinan, Prime Minister Barzani affirmed the actions of the convicted men and the misuse of their platforms will be handled within the framework of the law,” KRG said in a statement. 

Barzani’s statement came after he received a high-profile US delegation consisted of Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood,  Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs Aimee Cutrona, and Director for Iraq and Syria at the National Security Council Zehra Bell.

Recently upheld by the appellate court, three journalists and two activists were sentenced to six years in prison by an Erbil criminal court in February over charges amounting to undermining the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region.

Prior to the court trial and sentencing of the five, Barzani called the five “spies” and accused them of multitude of charges. 

The case has crystallized local and international concerns about the declining state of freedom of the press and expression in the Kurdistan Region, especially in areas under the jurisdiction of Barzani’s party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

What was mind-boggling from the case is that that the “five contacted the US and German consulates and were paid by them and saw the foreign countries diplomats in a hotel and guided them to Dure in Barzan.” Barzan is the birthplace of Barzani family in Erbil. 

The German, French and UK consulates in Erbil and EU, UN and Canadian missions in Iraq, as well as international watchdogs such as Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International and others watchdogs all have voiced concerns about the trial process and the ultimate court approval. 

“The Prime Minister appreciated the concerns of the Kurdistan Region’s diplomatic corps, and assured this case will be treated with utmost consideration,” Barzani said during the meeting.

The US delegation also met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, who has power to annul  the case or refer it to the courts again for further reviews. 

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.

(Zhyan English)