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Cable 753: Media Intimidation in Kurdistan

Cable 753: Media Intimidation in Kurdistan

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report discussing a series of threats and violent attacks on journalists investigating corruption in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
This is a 2008 US embassy report discussing a series of threats and violent attacks on journalists investigating corruption in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

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Published by: Andres on Nov 28, 2011
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11/28/2011

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O 021210Z SEP 08FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDADTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9182C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD002815SUBJECT: ERBIL AND KIRKUK: MURDER AND INTIMIDATIONTHREATEN THE SURVIVAL OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN NORTHERN IRAQ
Classified By: Classified By: RRT Erbil RegionalCoordinator Lucy Tamlyn for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)This is a joint RRT Erbil -- PRT Kirkuk ReportingCable.¶1. (C) Summary: Credible death threats from theKurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Iranianintelligence service may force one of the KurdistanRegion's boldest independent media outlets, Lvinmagazine, to move its operations to Europe,according to Lvin's Editor-in-Chief Ahmad Mira.Mira said the KDP and the Iranians have beenenraged by recent Lvin reporting on corruption andIranian intelligence operations in the KurdistanRegion. Lvin's Erbil Bureau Chief, Halgurt Samad,separately alleged that KDP Intelligence("Parastin") Chief Masrour Barzani personallygreen-lighted the late-July killing in Kirkuk ofLvin reporter Soran Hama, who had written adetailed expose about KDP security force involve-
 
ment in a Kirkuk prostitution ring. Citingunidentified "senior KDP officials" from the campof Masrour's cousin, KRG Prime Minister NechirvanBarzani, as well as unidentified sources in theKirkuk police, Samad told us that Parastin officersbased in Mosul were used to kill Hama. Lvin is notalone in its troubles. Editors at otherindependent media outlets complain that the KDP isattempting to strangle them financially and puttingintense pressure on KRG Vice President/senior PUKofficial Kosrat Rasul Ali to close down theSulaimaniyah-based Lvin, in particular. TheKurdistan Journalists' Association has requestedmore support from the USG in order to assistindependent journalism from becoming permanentlysilenced in Kurdistan. End summary.
------------------------------------------Death Threats from the KDP... and Now Iran------------------------------------------
 ¶2. (C) The Editor-in-Chief of Lvin magazine, AhmadMira, told RRT public diplomacy officers that"nearly hourly" death threats against him and hisstaff may force him to close the publication andmove overseas, probably to Germany or Norway. Lvinis one of the Kurdistan Region's few independentmedia outlets and is read closely by the region'spolitical elites, who reportedly have been enragedby the magazine's bold reporting on corruption andother "sensitive" topics. What has tipped thescales toward closing Lvin, Mira explained, is thatthe death threats are now not only coming from theKDP but from Iran as well. Mira said he was warnedby the Iranian intelligence service ("Ittilaa't")
 
that he and his Erbil Bureau Chief, Halgurt Samad,would be killed if they didn't stop reporting onIranian intelligence activities in the KurdistanRegion. Mira, still traumatized by the July 22murder in Kirkuk of Lvin journalist Soran Hama,lamented that "Lvin may be the first" of theindependent media outlets "to fall."
---------------------------- Masroor Barzani Implicated ---------------------------- 
¶3. (C) In a separate conversation with RRT PDofficers, Halgurt Samad alleged that KDPIntelligence ("Parastin") Chief Masroor Barzanipersonally green-lighted the killing of Soran Hama,who had written a detailed expose about KDPsecurity force involvement in a Kirkuk prostitutionring. Citing unidentified "senior KDP officials"from the camp of Masroor's cousin and putativerival, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, aswell as unidentified sources in the Kirkuk police,Samad told us that Parastin officers based in Mosulwere used to kill Hama. Samad, again citing"senior Kirkuk police investigators that the carused by Hama's killers was spotted at the residenceof the KDP's chief representative in Kirkuk. Anydoubts about who was behind Hama's killing were putto rest, Samad said, by Kurdistan National Assemblymember Naz Naz Mohammed, whose husband and fatherare both KDP Politburo members. Following Hama'skilling, Samad said that the KNA member matter-of-factly told him that "Mira didn't respond when wetried to buy off Lvin and didn't respond whenMasroor warned him. What did you expect Masroor to

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