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KDP divisions emerge over Duhok journalists, activists verdict

Former head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Leadership Council in Sulaimani Adham Barzani (File)
2021-02-20

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SULAIMANI — Former head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Leadership Council in Sulaimani Adham Barzani said on Friday (February 19) that he hoped that an appeals court would review the conviction and sentencing of five journalists and activists to six years in prison.

“I hope this review will be a reason for the detainees to be able to return to the arms of their families,” Barzani said in a post on Facebook.

He is a cousin of KDP Leader Masoud Barzani and a former member of the Kurdistan Parliament.

Journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, and Ayaz Karam and activists Shvan Saeed Omar and Hariwan Issa were detained in Duhok governorate last year as part of a crackdown on protest organizers and journalists by the local security forces, which are affiliated with the KDP.

On Tuesday, they were convicted of conspiring to undermine the security of the Kurdistan Region, eliciting widespread criticism of the trial was politically motivated and based on flimsy evidence and coerced and inaccurate confessions.

Ahead of the trial, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister and KDP senior official Masrour Barzani appeared to prejudice the outcome of the trial during a press conference by referring to the defendants as “spies” and accusing them of plotting acts of violence and sabotage.

On Thursday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani said that that he would follow the appeals process closely and reiterated his support for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and human rights principles.

He also urged everyone not to interfere with the court’s decision-making and to express their opinions about the case peacefully.

(NRT Digital Media)