Media Watchdog Calls For Release Of Detained Foreign Reporter In Iraq

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Iraqi authorities to immediately release foreign journalist Matej Kavcic and let local and foreign reporters cover news around the country freely without fear of detention.

CPJ said that the Iraqi 20th Infantry Davison detained Kavcic, a Slovenian freelance reporter, on April 20 in the city of northern Sinjar.

“Iraq forces detained Kavcic despite him saying that he was a journalist,” CJP said in a statement, adding that Kavici’s phone was also seized.

Iraqi forces also detained Marlene Forster, a German national, who was traveling with Kavcic, CJP said, adding that on April 22, both (Kavcic and Forster) were evacuated to Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city for further investigation.

CJP said that Iraqi officials alleged that both had links and were collaborating with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and they pretended to work as journalists.

Both Forster’s mother, Lydia Forster and Kavcic’s colleague, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that no formal charges have been disclosed in their case as of Wednesday, April 27.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, in Washington, said that Iraqi authorities “must release” Kavcic immediately and without charge, calling on Iraqi officials to “must ensure” that the press can work freely.

“Journalists in Iraq must be able to do their jobs without fear of reprisal or being caught in political crosshairs,” Mansour added.

The Slovenian student-run broadcaster Radio Student said that Kavcic had traveled to Sinjar to work as a freelance reporter, and strongly rejected the accusation that Kavcic was not working as a journalist.

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