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Editor Says Actions are Politically Motivated, Orchestrated by PUK
06/29/2009 8:56 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Apparently acting on orders from one of Iraq’s major Kurdish political parties, security forces in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region confiscated and destroyed copies of a weekly magazine from bookshops in Zakho in Dahuk Province, according to a statement released in Arabic by an Iraqi media rights watchdog.

Miran Husayn, who works in the editorial staff of the Kurdish-language Lifin magazine told the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) that forces loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani stormed a bookstore in Zakho that specializes in magazines and newspapers last Tuesday afternoon, June 23. The forces reportedly assaulted the shop owner of the store and detained his brother for 24 hours, JFO writes in its statement.

Husayn added that security forces “confiscated all copies of issue 94 of Lifin magazine,” and indicating that some of these copies were burned.

With circulation of about 25,000 copies per issue, Lifin is published weekly in the city of Sulaymaniya and distributed in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The Kurdish-language weekly has faced press violations before: Its editor-in-chief was arrested by Kurdish security forces in early 2007, after the magazine published details of Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani’s health situation. In addition, unknown gunmen shot dead one of the magazine’s correspondents in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk last year during a series of reports that exposed corruption in Kirkuk politics.

Husayn, the Lifin editorial staffer, told the JFO that the magazine had published articles in earlier issues containing criticisms of the Kurdistan regional political leadership, and had been subjected to several legal actions and threats, as were bookshops that sold the Lifin magazine.

Husayn, added that the operations coincided with an interview that the president of the region, Masoud al-Barzani, held with journalists, in which he promised to support media freedom in the Kurdish region.

JFO ends its statement with a call for Kurdistan regional authorities to respect freedom of the press in northern Iraq.

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NNN: Dhi Qar Authorities Will Apologize for Legal Action over Report
06/26/2009 09:04 AM ET

The head of the Dhi Qar provincial branch of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate has told NNN that local authorities have pledged to work to drop charges brought against the local online news agency and to present an official apology to NNN for the legal action.

On its website, Nasiriya News Net writes in Arabic that Kadhim al-'Ubaydi spoke with the agency on Friday, telling NNN that he and other members of the local journalists’ union met with the director of Nasiriya municipal services, Hasan Da'doush, who confirmed that the local administration “holds journalists in high esteem and respect, especially Nasiriya News Net and those working for it.”

The local official reportedly told al-'Ubaydi that the legal charges, brought recently against NNN after it published citizens’ negative views of the quality of municipal services, were not linked to the municipal administration but were instead brought at the behest of some local officials working in a personal and private capacity, adding that the charges will be withdrawn and an apology presented to the Internet news outlet and the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate.

The charges drew the condemnation of local media activists as well as national media watchdog organizations, as Slogger reported earlier.

Al-'Ubaydi added that he had met with one of the local civil engineering officials who were involved in instigated the charges against NNN. That official Sharif Mutshar, reportedly told the Dhi Qar press syndicate leader that he planned to travel to the local court on Sunday to withdraw the legal charges.

The Latest
JFO: Nasiriya News Net Faces Fines for Reporting on Poor Services
06/25/2009 7:36 PM ET
An Iraqi news website based in the southern city of Nasiriya is facing legal charges and a fine of 2 million Iraqi dinars after it published a report featuring citizens criticizing the quality of local services, an Iraqi media watchdog writes in Arabic.

In a statement released today, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) condemns the legal charges that it says were brought by the municipality of Nasiriya against the website Nasiriya News Net (NNN), after it published a story on its website citing local residents who complained over the lack of municipal services in the city.

The NNN site administrators told JFO that engineers in Nasiriya municipality brought legal complaints before a court in the city demanding that NNN pay two million Iraqi dinars (about 2,000 US dollars) after publishing citizens’ complaints over the condition of public services, the Iraqi press freedom advocacy group writes.

NNN administration told JFO that the network received an official letter from the court informing it of the charges and fines.

Nasiriya News Net is an Iraqi news website founded in 2003 based in the city of Nasiriya, the capital of Dhi Qar province.

The Latest
Iraq-Focused Station to Broadcast from Beirut
06/22/2009 7:17 PM ET

A new Iraq-focused Arabic-language satellite channel will enter the airwaves later this year, according to a report online.

The new channel will be based in the Lebanese capital Beirut but will follow Iraqi and Arab affairs, according to a report in Arabic on the Iraqi news blog al-Iraq News.

The website writes that its sources in Beirut report that a team of Lebanese and Iraqi media advisors are overseeing the development of the channel.

The station, whose name has not been announced, is due to launch in two months time, accordin to the report.

Al-Samara'i Lifts Ban after Access Blocked Nine Months Ago over Cartoons
06/22/2009 5:47 PM ET
The cartoon that prompted Iraqi MPs to ban a magazine from its halls. The figure on the right resembling the Statue of Liberty holds a tablet reading Democracy and Freedoms. The figure on the left holds a tablet reading Terrorism and female suiciders.
Al-Usbu'ia.
The cartoon that prompted Iraqi MPs to ban a magazine from its halls. The figure on the right resembling the Statue of Liberty holds a tablet reading "Democracy and Freedoms." The figure on the left holds a tablet reading "Terrorism and female suiciders."

A magazine whose correspondents were banned from entering the Iraqi Parliament building after it published a cartoons deemed to be offensive to Muslims has said that the president of Parliament has reversed the ban after nine months.

In a statement issued on its website in Arabic, the Iraqi press freedoms watchdog organization the Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO) writes that it "welcomes the “decision of the president of Dr. Iyad al-Samara’i the president of the Parliament to permit the al-Usbui’a magazine to enter the parliament after forbidding them for entering after nearly 9 months.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the head of the administrative committee at al-Usbui'a told JFO that the presidency of the Parliament issued an order allowing the magazine staff to enter the Parliament building.

Al-Kadhimi told the JFO that the decision was issued Monday, nine months after the order issued by the Parliamentary administration blocking the magazine’s staff from entering the Green Zone building.

The decision to deny the magazine access to the building came after al-Usbui'a published a cartoon showing a woman wearing the Islamic headscarf next to a depiction of the Statue of Liberty last September. The Parliament administration banned the magazine staff on the allegations that the cartoon defamed Muslim women.

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