Imprisoned journalist Omed Baroshki sentenced to additional year in prison

Imprisoned journalist Omed Baroshki (File)

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SULAIMANI — A court in Erbil convicted journalist Omed Baroshki on Thursday (September 23) on defamation charges related to social media posts criticizing the police and the government and sentenced him to an additional year in prison, his defense lawyer told NRT.

Baroshki was arrested in Duhok on August 18, 2020 during a crackdown on protest organizers and journalists by the local security forces, which are affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and has being imprisoned ever since, expect for a five-hour-long catch and release on bail last September.

Teacher and activist Badal Barwari was also arrested at the same time.

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

On June 23, Baroshki was sentenced to a year in prison for violating Article 2 of the Communications Device Misuse Act.

Along with Barwari, he is also set to stand trial on charges of seeking to undermine the stability of the state, but the trial has been postponed on numerous occasions, with the next hearing scheduled to take place next month.

Other journalists have been recently been sentenced to between six and seven years in prison on that charge.

"We are very concerned about Omed’s situation and his court case,” Kamran Osman, a member of human rights group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), told NRT following the decision.

"We are concerned that Omed and all the other [Duhok] prisoners…are not allowed to meet with their defense lawyers, which is a basic right for all prisoners, or have access to all means to defend themselves,” Osman added.

He argued that Baroshki and the other journalists who are currently in prison would have never been convicted under the Kurdistan Region’s press law, which is why they have been tried using other statutes.

"Omed Baroshki should be free because all the evidence from today and in June that they presented was very, very weak. Omed doesn’t deserve to be in jail,” Osman said.


(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 9:46 p.m. EBL