AFK EXCLUSIVE: State Department Response on the Badinan Case
American Friends of Kurdistan is actively working with members of Congress to shed light on the jailing of five activists and journalists to 6 years in prison by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), known as the Badinan case.
Through our ongoing engagement with Congressional offices, we have received the following response from the Department of State on this critical issue:
The Department has expressed to the KRG leadership in the strongest terms that the United States prioritizes human rights, and press freedom, and that the right of diplomats in the IKR to meet with civil society must be respected.
The Badinan case was of particular concern as it indicated an ongoing threat to the freedom of the press, and because the convicted journalists and civil society activists were punished in part for meeting with diplomats. The KRG maintains that the activists were working on behalf of the PKK. In response to our pressure, the KRG leadership has publicly stated their support for diplomatic engagement at all levels, including with members of civil society.
The Secretary’s message has been reinforced in one-on-one meetings by the Acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, the Ambassador, the U.S. Consul General in Erbil, and others. U.S. Consulate General Erbil has put out a public statement reaffirming our values as well.
In this case, consulate officers are monitoring the judicial process as they consider their remaining options. The consulate and the Embassy will continue to impress upon authorities in both the IKR and Federal Iraq the need to protect the rights of free expression, free assembly, and the role of the media.
American Friends of Kurdistan continues to call on the KRG to release the five individuals. Freedom of speech, press, and assembly must be protected and upheld.