An NRT TV channel reporter has been detained and an arrest warrant issued against the channel´s Managing Director over its report of a court ruling in Kurdistan, Iraq.
NRT journalist Aram Bakhtiar was detained on 22 May in the town of Kifri following his report about the 11 year jail sentence issued against a father for stealing milk and diapers for his baby. The news provoked protests against the court ruling and the issue has created strong public and media reactions embarrassing the authorities.
In a statement, the NRT denounced “a secret plot to silence the TV channel.” NRT General Manager Awat Ali has also received an arrest warrant from the Kifri court. He said that, even if the Press Law they have is very good, the authorities don´t want to implement it in their cases.
The Kurdistan Journalists´ Syndicate (KJS), an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has asked for the immediate release of the journalist, whose detention violates the Press Law.
“The KJS condemns the arrest of our colleague Bakhtiar and considers it against the Press Law No. 35. We hold the authorities responsible for his safety and demand his immediate release,” said the union in a statement.
The IFJ has backed its affiliate and urges the authorities to stop harassing the TV channel’s staff.
“Only authoritarian regimes lock up journalists for reporting the truth,” said IFJ President, Philippe Leruth. “The court decision to detain the journalists not only breaks the law of the land but it is also a shameful abuse of its powers over citizens. Press freedom is a core value of democracy.”