Detained journalist Karzan Karim was ‘about to expose corruption at Hawler airport’

News and Comment by Kurdistan Tribune – 10.8.2012 – Friends of the detained Hawler journalist Karzan Karim have refuted government claims that he is being held for national security reasons and compared his case to that of murdered journalist Sardasht Osman.

Karzan Karim is a young freelance journalist who was kidnapped from his home two weeks ago by member of the Paratsin, the security arm of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the dominant force in Hawler. As well as writing articles for local and international papers and websites, Karim also works for the VIP security department at Hawler International Airport.

Following a press conference yesterday, Kurdistan Regional Prime Minister Nichervan Barzani told reporters that Karzan Karim was arrested for reasons relating to his job at the airport. “I assure the journalists that no one will be arrested over journalistic work in the [Kurdistan] region… and that Karzan Kareem will be tried in a civil court,” said Barzani.

Officials have claimed that Karzan Karim is being held for divulging sensitive information to a third party. However, the Paratsin has an infamous record of kidnapping and torturing opponents of the KDP and supporters of the journalist say he has been detained because he planned to write about corruption involving KDP leaders at Hawler International Airport.

A campaign for the release of Karzan Karim has been set up by a group of his friends and issued the following statement :

“These types of statement by the KDP are familiar to our people in Kurdistan … and it is reminiscent of the Sardasht Osman case two years ago and … also the case of Kamal Said Kadir. The Hawler court give him 30 years in prison but, after outside intervention, the sentence has been waived.” The statement continued: “From day one they have treated the young journalist in an inhuman way. They kidnapped him. Karzan has been arrested because he was writing on corruption at Hawler airport by the leaders of the KDP”. The campaigners called on non-political organisations to press for Karzan Karim’s release.