Duhok security allowed lawyers to meet and defend journalist Suleiman Ahmad following 210 days of detention

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

By Ammar Aziz

Finally, after 210 days of detention, the security forces of Duhok Northern Province allowed the team of lawyers to meet and defend journalist Sulaiman Ahmad.

The team of three lawyers was able to sign a power of attorney for Sulaiman Ahmad on Wednesday and see him for the first time in seven months (210 days).

Revink Yasin, a lawyer and a member of the team, told KirkukNow: “We visited the Duhok General Security, they allowed us to see him and make a power of attorney for him and he signed it himself.”

“There they told us that they could see Sulaiman Ahmad. Two of our team met him,” Yasin said. “He was in good health and stable. He said he had been detained there for seven months.”

He was in good health and said he had been detained here for seven months

On October 25, Suleiman Ahmed, 35, a news editor in the Arabic section of the Rozhnews Agency, was arrested at the Fishkhabur (Semilka) Syria-Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR border crossing, while returning from northeast Syria to the IKR. He disappeared for five days before the Dohuk Asayish (security) announced Ahmed is detained by them.

Ahmed is originally from the Syrian city of Afrin, and has been residing legally in the IKR since 2018. In October 2023, he returned to his hometown to participate in his father’s funeral, and was arrested during his return to the Duhok Northern Province.

Dohuk Security forces did not mention in its statement the charges against Ahmed as a journalist and indicated that the Asayish forces “arrested a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who was moving between Rojava (Kurdish region of Syria) and the Kurdistan Region for secret and illegal tasks, so he was arrested.”

 Although the lawyers repeatedly asked the security forces to see Suleiman to at least sign a power of attorney to defend him, the security forces said they have not detained him.

A week after the arrest of Ahmad, the Duhok security forces issued a statement on October 31, without naming him as a journalist.

"We have arrested a member of PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) who carried out secret and illegal missions for them so he was arrested. He has confessed to his actions during the investigation, so he will be brought to court and dealt with according to the law," Asayish statement said without revealing the legal article under which Sulaimani was arrested.

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

The security forces have not allowed Sulaiman Ahmad to hire a lawyer for the past 210 days, while according to Article 23 of the Criminal Justice Basic Law, every accused has the right to sign a power of attorney for a lawyer after 24 hours so that he can give him legal advice before or during the investigation.

Yasin, after officially becoming Sulaiman Ahmad's lawyer, told KirkukNow on Wednesday: “Our step today was very good and positive. We can investigate his case and find out why he was detained and per which article?”

From now on, we can investigate his case and find out why he was detained

"His case is still under investigation and has not come to court. We will do our best to release him as soon as possible and return him to his family.”

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 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 metro.org.

According to the statistics, the 249 violations were committed against 247 journalists, including 134 cases of obstruction and discrimination, 38 cases of confiscation of journalistic equipment, 37 cases of detention without a court order, 27 cases of attacks, threats and insults.

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

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