A court of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government KRG has sentenced a freelance reporter of one year in prison for charges of defamation, the second sentence in three months, an international organization said.
Omed Baroshki, a freelance journalist, was sentenced by Duhok court on Thursday, Christian Peace Makers Team CPT, an NGO defending freedom of expression, said in a statement.
Baroshki was sentenced on June 22nd one year in prison for the same charges and waits third trial due on October 12th accused of “espionage and sabotage.”
He also awaits another trial for charges of libel and slander but the date has not been determined yet.
In June, the penal panel two of Iraqi Kurdistan Appellate Court in Erbil has issued its final verdict unanimously, confirming the court ruling of six-years-in-prison for freelance journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Mohammed Zebari, and civil society activists Ayaz Karam, Hariwan Essa & Shivan Sa'id.
The five detainees were found guilty of "undermining national security" and sentenced to six years in prison by the Erbil Criminal Court on February, 16th.
Brought before on February 15th and convicted in the following day, the five, among 82 journalists and civic activists in prison, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the (KRG) since October in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, 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.
Part of Duhok (Badinan) detainees, including Baroshki, has gone on hunger strike for the last two weeks against long pre-tiral detnetion in the Asayish (prisons), unfair trials and poor conditions as hundreds are detained in small detention cells.
“Misuse of law and such court rulings suppress freedom of expression in Iraqi Kurdistan region,” CPT said in a statement.
Baroshki said in a story published by KirkukNow last June that local officials have power over government office.
“By a phone call of an MP, I was detained for six days.”
On June 22nd, Baroshki was charged one year in prison and fined about USD200 according to item two of misuse of telecommunication devices law for publishing a post in Facebook about governor of Duhok. The verdict was also based on article 240 of Iraqi penal code rgearding assualt against a civil servant on duty.