المبادرة الدولية للتضامن مع المجتمع المدني العراقي

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Officials Threaten Journalist with Death unless he Stops Denouncing Corruption

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Journalistic Freedoms Observatory

An Iraqi journalist faces pressure and death threats for publishing a file of corruption on investments in the province of Diyala, where local officials and directors of municipalities have manipulated permits for investments in the cities of Baquba, and Khanaqin.

According to the documents obtained by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), the journalist who was threatened with death published an article based on official written data, issued by the Iraqi state institutions.

The journalist Sarmad Al-Qasim, the editorial manager of the (Lex News) agency, informed the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) about receiving direct death threats after publishing a file of corruption that includes 30 official document issued by the State of Iraq that clearly condemns those people.

The young journalist adds that his agency revealed “a group of corruptors run by a General Director of the Municipalities of the Province of Diyala, assisted by some of the districts municipality’s managers, including the mayor of Khanaqin. This group intends to block investments in the province by placing obstacles in front of investors, and then send mediators to blackmail the investors in general, with the support of a Member of the Parliament”.

Al-Qassem spoke about the acts through which he has been threatened, like phone calls from people close to that group, who sent him his personal picture, writing that they know him and can find him.

He added that a group of people bound together by a close relationship with managers of Diyala municipalities communicated with him and asked him to “refrain from prosecuting this file or face death”.

The province of Diyala is one of the most dangerous cities for the work of journalists and media teams, where the killing of the reporter Saif Talal and the cameraman of Alsharqiya channel Hassan Al-Anbaki took place on 12-01-2016. On 04/02/2016, the reporter of “Alhurra Iraq” channel has been threatened with death directly by one of the investors in Diyala province, after he published a television report revealing corruption in the agricultural field, on plots formerly belonging to the son of the former dictator Saddam Hussein, Uday. These were bought by an influential group for only three dinars per acre.

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) calls for security authorities to investigate the death threats against journalists in the country, and think that the government authorities did not deal seriously with these threats used by local officials to silence journalists and discourage them from pursuing fiscal and administrative files of corruption plaguing the Iraqi state institutions.