Imprisoned journalist Baroshki handed addition six months prison time on defamation charge

Imprisoned journalist Omed Baroshki (File)

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SULAIMANI — Imprisoned journalist Omed Baroshki was sentenced to an additional six months in prison by a court in Duhok on Sunday (October 17) after it found him guilty on a charge of defaming a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lawmaker.

The trial was not announced beforehand and comes just days before the journalist is due to stand trial along with teacher and activist Badal Barwari on serious national security charges.

Defense lawyer Ramazan Artisi told NRT that the case stemmed from a complaint by Mala Ihsan Rekani, a KDP member of the Kurdistan Parliament and vice-chair of the Kurdistan Parliament's Endowments and Religious Affairs Committee.

On September 23, Baroshki was found guilty on two other counts of defamation, one for comments about Duhok’s provincial government and the other about the Duhok Police, and was sentenced to six months in prison on each charge.

He was also sentenced in June to a year in prison for violating Article 2 of the Communications Device Misuse Act, which regulates online speech and is frequently used by the authorities in the Kurdistan Region to prosecute journalists who voice criticisms.

Artisi said that Baroshki and Barwari will be tried in Erbil on October 19 on charges of seeking to undermine the security of the state.

The charges against Baroshki, Barawri, and other journalists and activists arrested last year in Duhok by the local security forces, which are affiliated with the KDP, are widely viewed as politically motivated retaliation for their criticism of the party and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Foreign diplomats and a wide array of human rights groups have raised objections about the deterioration of freedom of the press and expression and basic rule of law in the Kurdistan Region.

So far, Baroshki and four other journalists and two activists have received jail sentences associated with the Duhok crackdown, while dozens of others have been in pre-trial detention for more than a year.

(NRT Digital Media)