LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned Kurdish forces for detaining journalist Barzan Ferman in northern Syria, and also urged them to reverse their suspension of the Rudaw Media Network’s license.
On Tuesday, forces affiliated with the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, or AANES, detained Ferman, a reporter for Rudaw TV, in Qamishli.
“Authorities in northern Syria must immediately release journalist Barzan Ferman, or disclose his location and the reason for his arrest,” said CPJ’s Senior Researcher Yeganeh Rezaian.
“The Democratic Union Party must halt its censorship efforts against the Rudaw network and allow the broadcaster to work freely and safely,” Rezaian said.
According to reports, Ferman was at Rudaw’s office in Qamishli when three masked security officers detained him and took him away in a white van.
Ferman’s whereabouts and reasons for his arrest are yet to be known.
AANES last February suspended the Rudaw Media Network’s license and the licenses of its employees, claiming the network spread “hate and misinformation.”
Kurdistan 24, another Iraqi Kurdish TV channel, has also been banned from operating in the region since June 2021.
After the suspension, Ferman continued working at the media network, and was detained while helping two colleagues clean the office.
Sources close to him said they had not been aware of Ferman receiving threats. However, one added that he “maybe kept it secret.”
According to the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Syria ranks 171 out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press.
Reporters without Borders, a media rights organization, reported in June of growing restrictions against journalists in Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria.
Restrictions include journalists having press cards to operate in the region and proving they are journalists.
To get a press card, reporters are required by the region’s media department to be members of the pro-government Union of Free Media, although such a requirement violates the region’s media law.
Without an official permit, journalists are unable to work in northern Syria and their applications remain blocked at the media office.