2 May 2012


Editor held illegally for six days because of corruption coverage

Incident details

Detention, Release on bail

Sherwan Sherwani, Journalist

This is available in:

English Français
(RSF/IFEX) - 27 April 2012 - Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the way Sherwan Sherwani, the editor of a monthly based in Dohuk, in the far north of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region, was arrested and held for six days, until finally freed on bail on 25 April.

“Sherwani's detention was arbitrary and illegal under the Law of Journalism in Kurdistan (Law No. 35)” Reporters Without Borders said. “The way this journalist was treated has all the markings of political reprisals for his coverage of corruption allegations. We call on the authorities to drop the charges against him and abandon any prosecution plans.”

Sherwani, whose monthly, Bashur Magazine, often has investigative coverage of political corruption in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), was arrested by police on 20 April in Akre, a locality on the eastern outskirts of Dohuk that is controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the autonomous region's two main ruling parties.

The arrest was the result of a complaint by the Akre municipal government about a May 2011 article accusing the head of the municipality of embezzling public funds, a claim for which the article provide some evidence.

During the six days he was held, members of the KDP security forces transferred him to Erbil, where he was taken to task for an old interview with a Kurdish businessman who had accused one of KRG President Massoud Barzani's brothers of extorting 32 million US dollars from him. From Erbil he was taken to Pirmam (7 km to the northeast of Erbil), where the Barzani family lives, before being taken back to Dohuk.

Criticizing Barzani, his family or the KDP or reporting corruption allegations in which they might in any way be involved are all off-limits for journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sherwani was finally freed on bail of 1 million dinars (650 euros) following pressure from the journalists' union and NGOs. “I will continue to do my duty as a journalist, pressing on with my investigative coverage of corruption despites the risks involved,” he said on his release.

Reporters Without Borders also calls on the KRG authorities to provide a completely transparent explanation of their refusal to allow the publication of a book by Aso Jabar called “Hell of Truth,” which describes press freedom violations by the KRG and its abusive treatment journalists, writers and activists.

An article in the Kurdistan Tribune quotes Jabar as saying the culture ministry refused to issue a publication permit because of its content. The article also reported that Jabar fled to the United States.

Read the Arabic version


Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

More from Iraq
  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Iraq

    The Communications and Media Commission (CMC) withdrew the television broadcast licenses of Al-Baghdadiya in March and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera in April for what critics said were political reasons.

  • Risking Their Lives: Ongoing Attacks Against Journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Through this report the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) aims to highlight cases of ongoing killings, attacks and threats against journalists and other media workers in four countries, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and makes recommendations to enhance their protection using international mechanisms including the United Nations system.

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Iraq

    Iraq had one of the highest murder rates for journalists in the world. Among those killed were Thaer al-Ali, editor in chief of the Mosul newspaper Rai al-Nas, and Jalaa al-Abadi, a cameraman for the Nineveh Reports’ Network.

At this point, would publish: "Home page"
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.