Media call on Syrian-Kurdish authority to end suspension of AFP journalist

Media call on Syrian-Kurdish authority to end suspension of AFP journalist
2 min read
17 January, 2022
It is not the first time Kurdish authorities target journalists, which have been facing increasing intimidation, including arbitrary arrests and kidnappings.
The Kurdish-led administration of northeast Syria suspended AFP photojournalist Delil Suleiman in early January [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty]

The Syrian Kurdish Journalist Network has called on authorities in northeast Syria to lift the suspension of AFP photojournalist Delil Souleiman.

Souleiman was suspended for two weeks by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration, which controls most of northeast Syria, after covering a sit-in against the authorities in the city of Qamishli.

The Syrian Kurdish Journalist Network suspects that Souleiman was sanctioned due to his media work covering the shortcomings of local authorities, including the pollution caused by informal oil refineries and the terrible conditions in landfills in northeast Syria.

Mullah Ibrahim, the head of the Autonomous Administration's Media Department, claimed that Souleiman's suspension was not due to the journalist but that he allegedly violated restrictions imposed by the authority's media department.

This includes claims he used a drone without getting authorization from Syrian-Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish.

Massoud Hamed, a journalist specialised in media law, said he is puzzled by the suspension.

"Souleiman did not do anything contrary to the principles of journalism," Hamed told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication. 

"I do not know on which law the [Syrian-Kurdish] Administration relied to impose this suspension."

The sanction on Souleiman comes amid allegations of a shrinking space for freedom of expression in northeast Syria. 

The Kurdish-led authority has closed opposition-affiliated media outlets and are also accused of the arbitrary detention of journalists and media workers. 

In June, the administration also revoked the media license of Kurdistan 24 without warning.

According to data from the Syrian Centre for Media (SCM), more than 300 journalists have been arrested across Syria and nearly 100 have been the victims of abduction since 2011.

The Syrian regime has forcibly disappeared journalists and targeted media workers.

Islamist groups, such as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, in opposition Idlib have also detained journalists and activists.