On December 12, 2017, Samir Al Daami, a well-known Iraqi-Norwegian freelance journalist and political commentator, was released after spending nearly two months in prison.
Al Daami, who is also known as Samir Abeid, and who frequently appears on TV channels such as NRT and Al Jazeera, was arrested after publishing a Facebook post criticising Iraq’s prime minister’s energy policy.
Following his arrest by members of the Iraqi army and intelligence services on October 22, 2017, Al Daami spent most of the past two months detained incommunicado, with no access to the outside world, including his lawyer and family.
His arrest followed the publication of a Facebook post on October 21 in which he stated that Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi had used the country’s armed forces to retake Kirkuk so that foreign oil companies that helped him become Prime Minister could gain control of the oil fields. As a result, the Public Prosecutor of the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad charged him with “broadcasting false or biased information, statements or rumours”.
Concerned over the fact that Al Daami’s detention resulted from him exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression, Alkarama brought his case to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye, asking him to call upon the Iraqi authorities to immediately release him.
Although the charges held against him were dropped, Al Daami’s personal belongings, including his passport, are still being withheld by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service.
“While we welcome Al Daami’s release, he should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Inès Osman, Regional Legal Officer at Alkarama. “In addition, there is no legal justification for hindering Al Daami’s freedom of movement by withholding his travel documents.”
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