On Sunday, Iraqi Kurdish Reporter, Karzan Karim, was sentenced on Sunday to two years in prison for allegedly harming Kurdish national security, according to AFP.
Press freedom groups and relatives of Karim said he was arrested and jailed for writing critical reports detailing corruption at Arbil airport. The hearing of Karim’s case took place in a closed session at the main criminal court in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan.
Family members and media rights organizations claim that details of Karim’s arrest were not specified at the time of trail.
“The trial took place in a closed session,” said Kamran Karim, Karzan’s brother. “We were not allowed to enter the hall, and I did not even see Karzan until the verdict.”
Aside from working at Arbil’s airport, Karim wrote articles for the Kurdistan Post website discussing accusations of corruption at the airport.
Kurdish authorities claimed the reason behind the arrest of Karim was strictly related to his work at Arbil’s VIP lounge while the Kurdish press freedom group claims the reason to be of recent published work and reports regarding the corruption taking place at the airport.
“We have major concerns over this decision and its impact on the future of journalists in Kurdistan,” said the head of Kurdish press freedoms group Metro, Niaz Abdullah.
In a released statement on the autonomous Kurdistan region’s website, said the charges against Karim were “based on his conduct as an officer of the region’s security agency” but gave no details.
Although the Kurdish region is seen to enjoy the practice of free press more than the rest of the country, the Kurdish region has recently been criticized by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders for the restrictions and violations taken against media rights in Kurdistan.
In the statement released online, it assured the cause behind Karim’s arrest isn’t involved with his published work as “there are hundreds of articles published daily in Kurdistan that are critical of the authorities and the leadership without any fear of retribution.”