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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Syrian Journalist Missing after Arrest on Iraqi Kurdistan Border

Wednesday , 01 November 2023

On October 25, 2023, Syrian journalist Sleman Mohammed Ahmed—an Arabic editor for the local news website RojNews—was arrested by Iraqi Kurdish authorities at the northern Faysh Khabur border and taken to an unknown location, according to news reports, the journalist’s brother Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, and RojNews editor-in-chief Botan Garmiyani, who both spoke to CPJ.

The journalist’s brother and Garmiyani said that Ahmed was returning from a visit to his family in Syria when his family lost contact with him at Faysh Khabur, which is part of the Duhok Governorate.


The Security Directorate (Asayish), which is responsible for border security in Duhok Governorate, said in a statement on its Facebook page that Ahmed’s arrest had nothing to do with his journalism but was because of his “secret and illegal” work for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is a militant group and political party that is legal in Iraqi Kurdistan but is classified as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union, and Turkey. Ahmed’s outlet, RojNews, is pro-PKK and regularly reports on its activities.

Asayish said that Ahmed had confessed to his actions during the investigation and would be brought to court and dealt with according to the law.

The journalist’s brother told CPJ that Ahmed was “never a fighter but only a journalist.”

Garmiyani also rejected the allegations against Ahmed, who he said had been working for RojNews since 2018, possessed all the necessary legal documents, and had never been arrested before.

“We do not know why he was arrested,” Garmiyani told CPJ. “We have contacted the security forces, but neither we nor his family have received any responses.”

CPJ has documented numerous incidents of journalists being attacked, arrested, or detained in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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