Iraq: Journalist and political commentator Samir Al Daami arrested for Facebook post criticising Iraq’s prime minister
On October 22, 2017, Samir Al Daami, an Iraqi-Norwegian political commentator, was arrested after publishing a post on Facebook the day before criticising Iraq’s prime minister. Al Daami is currently detained incommunicado at Al Muthanna Air Base, where he is being denied contact with his family and lawyer.
Samir Al Daami, also known as Samir Abeid, is a well-known freelance journalist and political commentator who frequently appears on TV channels such as NRT and Al Jazeera. His arrest and subsequent detention followed the publication of a Facebook post in which he criticised Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s energy policy.
Al Daami wrote that al-Abadi had used the country’s armed forces to retake Kirkuk so that the foreign oil companies that helped him become prime minister - such as British Petroleum (BP) - could gain control of the oil fields in Kirkuk.
Four days after his arrest by the Iraqi army and intelligence services, Al Daami was brought before the Public Prosecutor of the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, where he was charged with “broadcasting false or biased information, statements or rumours” under article 210 of the Penal Code. He was expected to be released on bail on October 30, but his relatives believe the Prime Minister’s office pressured the court to reject his application for conditional release.
On November 8, 2017, the Public Prosecutor at the Central Criminal Court charged Al Daami with “communicating with foreign parties”. His relatives believe he was prosecuted for a second time as a result of his guest appearance on Al Jazeera’s “The Opposite Direction”.
“Samir had already been subjected to threats and intimidation by the prime minister earlier this year,” Samir Al Daami’s brother told Alkarama. “The fact that al-Abadi threatened my brother sends a troubling message to the Iraqi opposition, and to anyone else who dares to speak up against his policies,” he added.
Although the Iraqi Constitution protects the freedoms of speech and expression, Iraqis who publicly criticise officials and corruption are frequently subject to retaliatory attacks.
Concerned over the fact that Samir Al Daami’s detention is the result of an act of free speech, in blatant violation of both article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was ratified by Iraq in 1971, as well as the Iraqi Constitution, Alkarama brought his case to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, asking him to call upon the Iraqi authorities to immediately release him.
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