Erbil court upholds convictions of journalists, activists sentenced to jail

File – A man holds a picture of some journalists detained by security forces in the Kurdistan Region

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Erbil Court of Appeals upheld convictions of five journalists and activists who were sentenced to years in prison.

The presidency of appeal court in Erbil denied in its decision, which was made on April 28 but now made public, the appeal of the journalists and activists.

On February 16, Erbil criminal court-2 sentenced journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebrai and Ayaz Karam as well as activists Shvan Omer and Hariwan Issa to six years each in jail on national security charges.

The Kurdish security forces arrested the five in Duhok province in October 2020 over allegedly undermining national security in the region.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani accused some of the detainees of being spies and planning to assassinate and blow up diplomatic missions in the Region.

“Those who were detained are not journalists and activists. Some of them were spies of countries and some others attempted to explode buildings and places of foreigners in the Region,” Barzani said in a press conference, referring to diplomatic missions in the Region.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to release the journalists.

A number of other journalists and activists are held in custody, whose cases are still pending.

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