Without knowing the reason for his arrest, the journalist confirmed that he had “all the necessary permits to work in all the lands of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”
A French journalist reported on Saturday to France Press that he had been arrested for hours by the police while working on a report in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, while the French Consulate in Erbil denounced what it considered “arbitrary arrest” and an “assault” on freedom of the press.
Journalist Benoit Drevet was a correspondent for several French-speaking newspapers in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, working on a Friday report in the Kalala region in the Kurdistan region on the impact of the repeated Turkish bombing on the Kurdish fighters of the PKK stationed in northern Iraq.
The journalist, who was working alongside a local female journalist, told AFP: “The moment we left, the Asayish,” that is, the local police, came to us, adding that “they confiscated all our things. Then they took my phone from me when I asked to contact the French consulate.”
Drifeh was then transferred to the police headquarters in Sulaymaniyah, the center of the province, and said that he was subjected to “several interrogations” and asked for private information, while he was unable to communicate with the outside world.
Without knowing the reason for his arrest, the journalist confirmed that he had “all the necessary permits to work in all the lands of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.” He said, “I was not restrained or abused.”
He was released on Saturday “after 17 hours” of detention “thanks to the intervention of the French consulate in Erbil.”
In a statement, the French consul in Erbil, Olivier Ducutigny, denounced “in the strongest terms the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment” of Benoit Drevet, considering it a “new example” of “the repeated attacks on freedom of the press and the rights of journalists throughout the autonomous region of Kurdistan.”
For his part, a security source in Sulaymaniyah told AFP, on the condition of anonymity, that Drefih was in the Kalala area, “which is a dangerous area.” He added, “For fear of any accident, we removed him from the area, and he stayed last night as our guest.”
The region is often criticized by human rights defenders who denounce arbitrary arrests, violations of freedom of assembly and attacks on freedom of the press.