Dohuk Asayish Refuses to Disclose Case of Journalist Suleiman Ahmed
Lawyers Consider Federal Court

Syrian-Kurdish journalist and editor Suliman Ahmed was arrested on Syria-Iraqi Kurdistan border end of October. Roj News

By KirkukNow

The Asayish Directorate in Dohuk Northern Province violates the constitution, the law, and the judge’s decision by not allowing detained journalist Suleiman Ahmed to communicate with his lawyer and not revealing the charges, as his fate remains unknown following 90 days after his arrest.

Suleiman Ahmed, a news editor in the Arabic section of the Rojnews Foundation, was arrested on October 25, 2023, at the Fishkhabur (Semilka) Iraq-Syria border crossing, while returning from the Kurdish part of Syria (Rojava) to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR. He disappeared for five days before disclosing his arrest by Dohuk Asayish on October 31st.

On Thursday, January 25, 2024, specifically 90 days after the arrest of Suleiman Ahmed, the journalist’s lawyer team and the press institution for which he works held a press conference in which they highlighted their position about Ahmed’s arrest and the information they obtained regarding the case.

Rojnews Agency says on its website that it belongs to Chatr Publishing Company and publishes its articles in Kurdish (both Sorani and Kurmanji dialects) and Arabic languages. The concessioner is Hasan Hama Raza and they are licensed by KRG.

Nariman Ahmed, head of the volunteer defense team for the detained journalist, said at the conference, “We asked the Dohuk Asayish more than 10 times to allow us to see Suleiman or see the case or to allow us to take over his case, but the last time specifically at the beginning of this month they said they don’t have him.”

This comes at a time when the Asayish Directorate of Dohuk confirmed in a statement on October 31, 2023, that it had arrested “an element of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who was moving between Rojava and the Kurdistan Region for secret and illegal missions, so he was arrested.”

The statement stressed Ahmed “confessed during the investigations admitted what he has done and will be referred to the court and he will be dealt with according to the law,” noting that the Asayish did not refer to Ahmed as a journalist.

We approached the investigating judge in the Asayish Directorate and he issued us a letter to allow us to see him, but the Asayish violated the decision and did not allow us

"Since the beginning of Suleiman Ahmed's arrest, we approached the Dohuk Asayish and asked them to allow us to see him, but to no avail. Then we approached the investigating judge in the Asayish Directorate and he issued us a letter to allow us to see him, but the Asayish violated the decision and did not allow us to see him," Ahmed explained.

“We went back to the Asayish judge and told him that they were preventing us from seeing him and violating your decision. He said that he also did not know the reason for arresting Suleiman Ahmed and what his case was because they did not bring it to me.” Ahmed pointed out that Article 40 of the Code of Criminal Procedure obliges all security and police institutions to follow all the decisions by the judge.

The Asayish Directorate of Dohuk also violated another article in the same law, as Article 23 stipulates that every accused has the right to appoint a lawyer and meet him after 24 hours to take legal advice, whether before or during the investigation.

The local and international organizations, human rights advocates members of the Iraqi and Kurdistan parliaments MPs continuously express their grave concern that the journalists and the freedom of the expression and press are increasingly under threat all over Iraq including the IKR.

Almost 249 violations were registered against journalists in the IKR last year, according to the Metro Center for the Protection of Journalists' Rights

Controversially, the Iraqi Kurdistan Union of Journalists (KUJ) has reported 62 cases of violations against journalists across 2023.

Ahmed stressed that Asayish Dohuk also violated Article 19 of the Iraqi Constitution, which stipulates that the accused must have time and be granted adequate facilities to enable him to prepare his defense and contact a lawyer of his choice.

We will accuse the Minister of Interior, the regional government (KRG) of violating the constitution and file a lawsuit against them

“Violating the constitution is a fundamental point for us, so if the fate of Suleiman Ahmed is not revealed soon and we do not organize a power of attorney to defend him, we will resort to the Iraqi Federal Court and we will accuse the Minister of Interior, the regional government (KRG) of violating the constitution and file a lawsuit against them (in Baghdad).”

The team of lawyers in the Suleiman Ahmed case did not hide their fear that the Asayish would force him “under pressure” to sign a “fabricated” confession.

“Because in recent years, many people have been convicted and imprisoned without evidence, including the case of the Badinan journalists... We demand that they do not do the same in the case of Suleiman Ahmed,” said lawyer Nariman Ahmed.

Badinan detainees, part of them tried and freed up to the present, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the Kurdish security forces Asayish since June 2020 in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, the KRG handling of the economic crisis resulting from disputes with Baghdad over oil production, export, and corruption, and reached its peak under the Covid-19 pandemic.

“According to our experience in this field, we can say that Suleiman Ahmed did not make any confession, because in that case, he would have appeared before the judge... What raises our question is what is the legal article under which they arrest him. The Asayish judge said the same thing,” Ahmed added.

In their latest endeavor to uncover the fate of journalist Suleiman Ahmed, the team of lawyers visited the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), where the mission’s human rights official stressed the formation of a team to follow up on the case.

"We want pressure to be exerted through them to reveal Suleiman's fate and to ensure that he appears before a judge if there are charges against him."

"We ask the Asayish of Dohuk to allow us to take over Suleiman's case so that his case is dealt with according to the law."

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